We’re back on the ATP tour after a break for the Australian Open, and the Davis Cup qualifiers. Three 250 events to start off the month. One in Europe, USA, and South America, so there’s something for everyone!
Dallas 250, USA:
The only indoor ATP tournament in the USA, the Dallas tournament has been held since way back in 1968. Winners over the years are a who’s who of the tennis world. Andy Roddick, Andy Murray, Andre Agassi, Ivan Lendl, Pete Sampras, John McEnroe, and our own Lleyton Hewitt and Mark Philippousis are previous title holders.
This year, you would expect the title to be won by one of the top 3 seeds, Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe, or Denis Shapovalov. Although Australia’s Jordan Thompson will be hoping to do some damage this week, after a pretty lean Australian summer. He has American Denis Kudla in the first round.
Cordoba 250, Argentina:
Cordoba has only been going as a tournament for 4 editions, but is already establishing itself as an exciting place to play, with large crowds attending.
Diego Schwartzman has played every year, and this will be his fourth time as top seed, but he’s yet to taste success. Maybe 2023 will be 5th time lucky for the Argentine.
He will be joined by plenty of other Argentines though. In fact, 5 of the top 6 seeds will be hoping to lift a home country trophy this week, including Francisco Cerundulo, who made the third round of the Aussie Open, and Sebastian Baez, who made the QF’s last year.
Trying to upset the Argentinians though, will be defending champion, and Spanish number 3 seed, Albert Ramos-Vinolas.
Montpellier 250, France:
Running since 2010, Montpellier has evolved into quite a large tournament, with the centre court holding 7,500 seats. The French players have traditionally performed well on home soil, with 8 winners from the 12 editions held so far. This year, the top French hope falls with 45 ranked, Benjamin Bonzi.
However, this year, it’s two of the most promising young guns leading the field, with Holger Rune, and Jannik Sinner taking the top and bottom places in the draw. If we are lucky enough to get that final at the end of the week, it’ll be one to set the alarm for.
Two tournaments this week for the women. We have a 500, and a 250, meaning plenty of top players are going to be in action this week.
Abu Dhabi 500, UAE:
As always, when it comes to WTA500 events, we have a very strong line-up. Interestingly, none of the top 7 players are there, but below that, the top 8 seeds are ranked from 8th in the world (Daria Kasatkina, down to 19th (Liudmila Samsonava), so there is plenty of depth in the field. Garbine Muguruza scores another Wildcard, so it will be interesting to see if she can finally take advantage of it this week. If not, she’ll find herself slipping outside the top 100 fairly soon.
Linz 250, Austria:
One of the staples on the WTA tour for over 30 years, Linz has played host to some of the world’s best players. Past title holders include, Aryna Sabalenka, Coco Gauff, Angelique Kerber, Victoria Azarenka, and all the way back to Lindsay Davenport, Mary Pierce, and Jana Novotna.
Maria Sakkari is this year’s solitary top ten player, as per the WTA250 rules, and with only other four top 30 players, on paper, Maria has to be favourite.
But don’t let that fool you into believing she will have it all her own way. The winner in Lyon, overnight Alycia Parks, along with Australian Open quarter finalist Donna Vekic will have a big say in what happens this week. Throw in Linda Noskova, Camila Giorgi, and second seed Ekaterina Alexandrova, and Linz has the makings of an exciting event.
ATP Challenger Tour:
Vilnius 100, Lithuania:
A new event on the calendar, named after Vitas Gerulaitis, Lithuania is the host of the biggest Challenger tournament of the week. However, with 3 ATP250 tournaments on, it probably isn’t as strong as it could’ve been. Twenty year old Swiss, Dominic Stricker, ranked 118 will be the top seed this week. He would be desperate to push up into the top 100, so a win this week, would go a long way to getting him there.
Tenerife 3 75, Spain:
Back to Tenerife, a Spanish island off the coast of Western Africa for the 3rd and final event. Interestingly, possibly a marginally stronger field, based on the direct entry cut-off (233 compared to Vilnius at 242). Perhaps players are preferring to play outdoors in the sunshine, which is understandable.
Russian, Alexander Shevchenko is back in the field again as the second seed. He took out the first Tenerife event, but didn’t play last week. Czech, Lukas Rosol, at age 37 is playing this week, trying to build his ranking up, after it dropped down to 336 last year. He’s currently at 227, so he’ll definitely be looking to break back into the top 200 late in his career.
W60 Grenoble, France
Loaded with French players understandably, led by 118 ranked Oceane Dodin. Oceane has had a blistering start to 2023, winning the 25K event in Tunisia to start the year, making the semis of the 40K in Tunisia the week later, and winning the 60K event in France last week. This will be her biggest test yet though, with 8 other players inside the top 200.
W60 Orlando, USA
Hungarian, Panna Udvardy will be the sole top 100 player (89) this week, and she would be looking to win a few matches, after having a fairly slow start to the year. Twelve top 200 players take to the courts though, including Australia’s own Kimberley Birrell, coming off a high of reaching the second round in Melbourne, after defeating Kaia Kanepi in an epic opening match.
M25 / W25 Burnie, Australia
Another week of tennis in Tasmania as Burnie plays host again as the men and women play alongside each other in the 25K category. Japan's Rio Noguchi will be top seed in the mens with Australia's Tristan Schoolkate the second seed. On the women's side Olivia Gadecki will be the top seed after being a finalist on the same courts just yesterday against title winner Storm Hunter who has to go through qualifying. Jamiee Fourlis will be the second seed.
Plenty of tennis around the globe this week. Unfortunately for Australians, we have to now get used to tennis in less than ideal time-zones…