The new season is already upon us, so it’s time to preview what’s on the tennis menu for the opening week.
The brand new event on the calendar, The United Cup combines both men and women, in a Davis Cup style format. Two ATP, and two WTA matches, with a mixed doubles to break the deadlock, should it be 2-2 after the singles.
The tournament will be held across three cities in the group stage; Perth, Brisbane, and Sydney, with the semi-finals and final staged in Sydney.
There are 18 countries taking part, inclusive of Australia, Spain, Germany, Argentina, USA, France, Switzerland, Poland, Italy, Greece, Great Britain, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Norway and Kazakhstan.
Players competing include; Swiatek, Nadal, Pegula, Zverev, Garcia, Tsitsipas, Tomljanovic, Ruud, Bencic, Fritz, Badosa, Wawrinka, Sakkari, Hurkacz, Mertens, Goffin, Haddad-Maia, Dimitrov, Kvitova, Berrettini, De Minaur, Kygrios, Norrie and Coric. With each country having up to eight players on the team, there are sure to be some fantastic match-ups, and probably some early season surprise results.
While the points allocation, and prizemoney distribution is somewhat messy, I am looking forward to seeing how this new format works.
Adelaide 1 250
Adelaide holds the first official ATP event, and it’s a stacked line-up, more in line with a Masters 1000 event. Djokovic, Medvedev, Auger-Aliassime, Rublev, Sinner, Rune, and a host of top players will be looking to get valuable match practice in the lead up to the Australian Open. However, with such a strong line-up, there will be plenty of strong competition to open the ATP year.
The other ATP event being staged this week is in Pune, India. A far weaker line up on paper, with two time winner, Marin Cilic leading the field. In previous years, Pune has had some high profile winners, including Stan Wawrinka four times, Kevin Anderson, Carlos Moya, and Australia’s Pat Rafter way back in 1998.
Adelaide 1 500
The women are also kicking off the WTA season in Adelaide, headlined by world number two Ons Jabeur. Joining her for the first of back to back Adelaide tournaments, are Aryna Sabalenka, Daria Kasatkina, and 2022 Australian Open runner-up, Danielle Collins. It will be interesting to see how many players back up for the 2nd week in Adelaide. Quite a few are on the entry list for both, but depending on the weather, and how far they go, we may seem some changes for the second week.
Across the ditch in New Zealand, Auckland is back on the calendar. The last time the WTA season visited there in 2020, Serena Williams took out the final singles title of her career. Coco Gauff is the highest ranked player on the entry list, giving her a great chance to start the year off with a trophy. Other players to keep an eye on early in the year, will be Emma Raducanu, and young Czech star, Linda Fruhvirtova.
ATP Challenger Tour:
The ATP challenger tour kicks off in fine style for 2023, with five events taking place across all corners of the globe.
Canberra, Australia 100
Only the one Challenger event in Australia before the Australian Open this year, and we head to the capital city. Past champions include Hubert Hurkacz, and Andreas Seppi. The field to be spearheaded by former world number thirty one Marton Fucsovics. Of the Australian contingent Aleks Vukic and James Duckworth are confirmed main draw starters.
Noumea, New Caladonia 100
A staple on the Challenger tour since 2005, but returning for the first time since 2020, due to the covid hiatus, Noumea seems like an idyllic spot to ease into the new year. Although with past winners such as Gilles Simon, Adrian Mannerino, and most recently, JJ Wolf, there should be plenty of high quality tennis played in the Pacific. The field will be led by former world number seventeen Cristian Garin of Chile.
Nonthaburi 1, Thailand 75
The first of three tournaments in a row in Bangkok, offering the chance for players in the Asia-Pacific region to base themselves in one place for a few weeks. Aussie Max Purcell is confirmed in the main draw.
Tigre 1, Argentina 50
The opening clay court tournament for the year in South America probably won’t be hosting many men with Australian Open prospects for this year, but as always, the South American events will be extremely competitive, with players from across the continent, looking to open their year on a high.
Oeiras 1, Portugal 50
A new indoor hardcourt tournament to kick off the season in Europe. With the northern hemisphere winter still in full flight, outdoor tournament play is still some months away, so Portugal are hosting a couple of indoor events to accommodate players.
Canberra, Australia W60
This is the one ITF Women's event to be held in Australia leading in to Australian Open qualifying. Of the four ITF women's tournaments to start 2023, this has the best prize money - $60,000.
A big first week of the season…