Madrid Masters 1000:
The second Masters event on clay, as the lead-up to Roland Garros continues. Unfortunately, we have some big names missing, which seems to be the norm so far this year. In football terms, ‘it’s hard to get a full team on the park’. Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and Jannik Sinner are the three big guns who will be on the sidelines this week.
But let’s focus on who is playing. Carlos Alcaraz, Andrey Rublev, Holger Rune, and Stefanos Tsitsipas have all been in very good form, so we should still have a cracking 10 days in the Spanish capital.
For the Aussies, we’re represented by Alexei Popyrin (Quentin Halys R1) , Jason Kubler (Dusan Lajovic R1), Christopher O’Connell (Filip Krajinovic R1), Thanasi Kokkinakis (Jaume Lunar R1) and Alex De Minaur (R1 Bye) All have shown signs of form throughout the season, and it would be great to see some Aussies represented into the second week.
Madrid Masters 1000:
The women are of course, also competing in Madrid, although sadly, no Aussies in the singles main draw at this stage but Kim Birrell is the sole representative in the qualifying draw, having won her opening round match overnight and tonight will play 9th seed Anna Karolina Schmiedlova for a place in the main draw.
All of the top 10 women are playing this week, so we’re going to get another good indication of who is finding form before the French Open.
It appears Iga Swiatek might be starting to peak at the right time, as she looked fairly dominant last week, taking the Stuttgart title. As always though, a week is a long time in tennis, and the usual suspects will be biting at her heels. Aryna Sabalenka, Elena Rybakina, Ons Jabeur, and Jess Pegula amongst a swathe of others, will be hoping to upset Iga’s applecart this week.
ATP Challenger Tour:
Seoul 125, South Korea:
Upgraded to a 125 event this year, Aussie Li Tu is back to defend his title from last year with the tournament shifted forward on the calendar. He has won a lot of matches in the last few weeks, but at the lower ITF level, so it’d be great to see him step up here again. He’s joined by a stack of Aussies preferring the hard courts, with genuine chances of going deep in the event. Rinky Hijikata and Aleksandar Vukic started their campaigns with wins on Monday with Max Purcell, Jordan Thompson, James Duckworth and Marc Polmans to play their Round 1 matches today.
Ostrava 75, Czech Republic:
Ostrava has been one of the staples on the Challenger Tour for a couple of decades now. Always well attended, and well run, this year’s event won’t have any Australian players, but does get the draw card of Gael Monfils, who accepted a Wildcard. Britain’s Ryan Peniston will go in as top seed, but not having only won a single match since early February, it’s fair to say he’ll be looking for some valuable court time this week.
Rome 75, Italy:
Almost like an entree to the main Rome event, the Challenger edition has been running for close to 20 years. As expected, it’s loaded with European players, with no Australians making the journey to the Eternal city this week for singles (The Taylor brothers Jason and Adam will combine in doubles) Hungarian Fabian Marozsan is the top seed this week, ranked 133. Plenty of other players inside and outside the top 200 will be looking for valuable ranking points as we head towards Roland Garros in a month or so.
Savannah 75, USA:
Still on the US clay this week, and a tournament that Australia’s Nick Kyrgios tasted success in, back in 2014, when he blasted through the field. No Kyrgios this week, but Bernard Tomic gets in as an alternate. Unfortunately for Bernie, he’s drawn to take on top seed, Belgian Zizou Bergs in the opening round. It’s be great to see him take a scalp this week, and keep that ranking moving up.
Buenos Aires 50, Argentina:
As you might expect, a tournament full of South American players, with 15 from the home country alone, gaining direct entry, including the top two seeds, Andrea Collarini, and Thiago Agustin Tirante. This shows the strength and depth of tennis in Argentina at the moment. Collarini has boosted his ranking by about 60 spots already this year, and at 31 years old, is currently at a career high of 181. It’s great to see older players still finding their best form later in their career.
W60 Charlottesville, USA:
On the clay in the USA this week, a pretty decent field is assembling. Russian, Diana Shnaider is the sole top 100 player, however, there are 11 players between 100 and 200. This should make for a highly competitive week, as players try to push up into Roland Garros direct entry territory. For the Aussies, Astra Sharma is the top seed in qualifying, having won her opening round match Monday so hopefully she will make her way into the main drawin the early hours of tomorrow morning AEST
W60 Oeiras, Portugal:
Another week on the Portuguese clay, and this week we have some more Australian representation, with Olivia Gadecki hoping to go better than her first round exit last week at the same venue. If she can back up her solid Australian form, I would expect to see some wins this week. She goes in as the top seed.
W60 Istanbul, Turkey:
A very even tournament on paper, with all 16 direct entries within 140 ranking places. Two of those players are Aussies, with Priscilla Hon taking her place as number two seed, and Jaimee Fourlis as the fourth seed. Britain’s Katie Swan will be the top seed, entering as the world’s 149th ranked player. Again, vital points are up for grabs here, where one or two strong ITF results, could be the difference between Franch Open direct entry, or qualifying. This is always a really interesting time of year to watch some of these lower tier events.
There will be some other Aussies playing singles and doubles at the lower end ITF tournaments. We will follow all our Aussies through our social channels - Facebook, Twitter and Instagram through the week.