The Madrid Masters continues into its second week, and whether or not we really need 2 weeks for Masters events, has been a source of debate. Personally, I don’t think we do, but here we are. No other ATP events will be on the schedule this week. From an Aussie perspective Alex de Minaur is still alive as he goes up against Aslan Karatsev tonight for a spot in the Round of 16.
Just as the men have their event spread out over a couple of weeks, the women have the same. However, there are a couple of WTA 125 events this week, and some strong ITF events, which is great to see.
Saint Melo 125, France:
Sloane Stephens is the only player in the top 50 competing here this week. She’s shown glimpses of form this year, but will be hoping to push back towards the top 20. To do that though, these are the kind of events she should win.
Reus 125, Spain:
Aussie Ellen Perez will be in final round qualifying tonight up against Elizabeth Mandlik, the daughter of four time grand champion Hana Mandlikova.
ATP Challenger Tour:
Another big week ahead, with 5 events across 3 continents, allowing for plenty of great opportunities to collect points.
Aix-En-Provence 175, France:
The highest category of Challenger tournament is back this week, and you can always guarantee good crowds at this popular event. An interesting stat for this tournament…9 editions, 9 different countries have tasted success, including Australia, when John Millman won back in 2018. Other winners have been Frances Tiafoe, Diego Schwartzman, and last year, Benjamin Bonzi of France. A high quality draw this year, with Tommy Paul as top seed. However, a first round clash of Wildcard’s holds the most interest. Andy Murray takes on Gael Monfils, in a match that should see a full house early in the week. Aussie Jason Kubler will take on Tomas Martin Etcheverry in the opening round.
Cagliari 175, Italy:
Another 175 tournament, meaning we have plenty of quality players spread out on the Challenger tour this week. For the Australian fans, Thanasi Kokkinakis is the only representative. Joining him in the field is American, Ben Shelton, Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka, and Diego Schwartzman. In total, 8 top 100 players will be playing in Italy this week.
Gwangju 75, South Korea:
Back in South Korea for another week, and again, it’s Aussies aplenty. Max Purcell, the man with the most Challenger titles this year (3 singles, 2 doubles) will again be the top seed. Other Aussies in the draw include Jordan Thompson, James Duckworth, Rinky Hijikata, Aleksandar Vukic, who finished runner up last week, and Marc Polmans. Let’s hope for some Aussie silverware this week.
Prague 75, Czech Republic:
If you need another reason to visit this stunning city, why not go and watch a Challenger event? Prague plays host to another edition of this tournament, which has been on the calendar for over two decades now. No Aussies taking part this year, but a fairly strong event should throw up some quality tennis. Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic is the sole top 100 player, but with main draw cut-off at 169, there’s plenty of depth to this field.
Coquimbo 50, Columbia:
If you a young player looking to pick up points, or get into a tournament, this looks the place to come. A smaller category tournament, but with the top seed ranked only at 220 (Nick Hardt of the Dominican Republic), and the main draw cut-off at 475, this is a significantly weaker event. One player who is back on the rise this year, is Brazilian, Thiago Seyboth Wild. Having been as high as 106, he started the year down at 418. Some strong results, including a title in Argentina last week, have seen him climb back to 226, so he seems to be finding his form again.
W100 Bonita Springs, USA:
Strong USA representation this week, as you’d expect. Although it’s Japanese woman, Nao Hibino, who leads the field, coming in with a current ranking of 111, however she has been as high as 56. All 17 direct entrants are ranked inside 250, so it’s a very even field on the US clay.
W100 Weisbaden, Germany:
If you’re in Europe, Wiesbaden is another town worth a stopover at any time of year. But if you can get there this week, you’re going to see some great tennis. Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi is the top seed this week, but there is also some strong Australian representation. Kimberley Birrell, Olivia Gadecki, and Jaimee Fourlis will all fancy their chances of going deep in the tournament.
W80 Gifu, Japan:
Sujeong Jang of South Korea enters as the top seed, currently ranked 118, close to her career high of 114, so she is playing some good tennis lately. However, Aussie, Maddison Inglis also gets into the event, and she actually knocked off Jang two weeks in a couple of tie-breakers, on her way to taking out the W25 event in Osaka. Her confidence will be high, and although the depth of this event is a step up, there’s no reason she can’t have another big week.