Not much of a break between Masters events for the men, as we head into the first on the clay courts.
For the women, this week it is all about the Billie Jean King Cup Qualifiers, with a pause on tour events.
Monte Carlo Masters 1000:
Arguably the most stunning location on the calendar, Monte Carlo has been drawing the rich and famous for decades. Rafael Nadal has won a record 11 titles here, but it’s Stefanos Tstisipas who has been unbeatable here of late, winning the last two editions.
With no Nadal, or Carlos Alcaraz in the draw, Tsitsipas has every chance to lift the trophy again. However, Novak Djokovic will be the top seed this week, and it will be interesting to see how is form is, after missing another large chunk of the season.
For the Aussies, Alex De Minaur takes on Andy Murray, in a tantalising first round clash, while Alexei Popyrin made it through qualifying, and will take on Dusan Lajovic of Serbia in his opening match up.
Billie Jean King Cup Qualifiers
A total of eight play off ties will take place this coming weekend with the winning nations advancing to the 2023 finals. Switzerland and Australia have qualified automatically.
Sarasota 125, USA:
Some big names have lifted the trophy in the 12 editions of Sarasota. Tommy Paul in 2019, Frances Tiafoe in 2017, and our own Nick Kyrgios in 2014.
This year, Aussie Jason Kubler will be the top seed, and will joined by fellow compatriot Aleksander Vukic. Both will be looking to gain some much needed form on the clay, before heading across the Atlantic in the build up to the French Open.
Madrid 75, Spain:
Pedro Cachin, of Argentina will be the clear top seed here, ranked 67. He has good memories here, taking out the inaugural edition last year, so understandably, he is back to defend his title. He’ll take on home town favourite, Fernando Verdasco in the first round.
For the Aussies, Omar Jasika will be hoping to get his first clay court win of the season. It’s been a lean run for Omar, who last year rose up the rankings, but is now finding it harder to break into the top 200. Fellow Aussie Akira Santillan will play tonight in final round qualifying to try and join Omar in the main draw.
Leon 75, Mexico:
A new Challenger on the calendar in Mexico, and an Aussie leads the charge, with James Duckworth playing as the top seed. He’ll be looking to regain some of the early season form, that has seen him knocking on the door of the top 100 again. He has a fairly kind draw early on, so I would expect to see him get through to the QF’s and beyond.
Split 75, Croatia:
Another beautiful location for a tournament, Split is back on the calendar for a fourth consecutive year, after a long break. Last year, Aussie Christopher O’Connell took out the title, and this year, he is understandably backing up as the top seed, and only player inside the top 100. After a lean month or so in the US, O’Connell will be looking for a big start to the European clay season. Hoping to join Chris in the main draw will be fellow Aussie Dane Sweeny who will be in final round qualifying this evening.
W80 Zarazoga, Spain:
The biggest tournament for the women is a W80, and it’s drawn a few top 100 players, with Danka Kovinic from Montenegro, Oceane Dodin of France, and Bulgaria’s Viktoriya Tomova taking their place as the favourites for the title. With another 10 players inside 200, we should have a competitive week, albeit with no Australian participants.
W60 Chiasso, Switzerland:
Again, no Aussies on the acceptance list here, and no players within the top 200 somewhat surprisingly. Latvia’s Darja Semenistaja is the top seed, and has 2 ITF finals, with one W40 title under her belt this season. If she was to win this week, it would be the biggest title of her career.
There will be plenty more Aussies featuring in doubles action at Tour and Challenger level and in singles and doubles action at ITF level that we will track right through the week. Follow us on our Twitter account in particular and on Facebook and Instagram.