A huge week ahead, as the European clay season gets into full swing. This is a great time of year for all those outside of the Australian Timezone!
Barcelona 500, Spain:
An iconic event on the calendar, Rafael Nadal has taken out this title a record 12 times. He won’t be here this time though, with injury still keeping him off the competition circuit. This means the home fans will be fully behind reigning champion, Carlos Alcaraz, who is returning from a short break. He’ll have some stiff competition from the likes of Stefanos Tsitsipas, Casper Ruud, and Jannik Sinner. For the Aussies, Alex De Minaur is nicely placed, as number 8 seed, while compatriot Jason Kubler gets in the main draw.
Banja Luka 250, Bosnia:
Novak Djokovic is the big draw card here this week, as he throws his support behind the tournament that was previously scheduled for Belgrade. He’ll be joined by fellow top ten player, Andrey Rublev, who is riding high from his Monte Carlo triumph. Alexei Popyrin is the sole Aussie in the field, and he’s drawn to take on 5th seed Tallon Greikspoor in the opening round.
Munich 250, Germany:
Another beautiful city hosting a tournament this week. Fans really are spoiled for choice at the moment! Holger Rune will be here to defend his title, coming off the disappointment of coming so close in Monte Carlo. Taylor Fritz and Alexander Zverev fill the other top seedings, in an event that holds a bit of interest for Aussie fans. Jordan Thompson and Christopher O’Connell are direct entries, and have both avoided the seeds in their opening round.
Just a single tournament for the women this week.
Stuttgart 500, Germany:
Some big name past winners of this event, namely Iga Swiatek last year, and Ash Barty in 2021. This year is another stacked event, as it is the only event for the women to enter. From the top ten, only Jess Pegula, and Petra Kvitova are missing. From round 1, every match up looks like a potential Slam quarter final. Can Iga defend her title? Or will we see Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina clash again in the final? It should be a really exciting week.
ATP Challenger Tour:
A Big week on the second tier too, with 5 tournaments across the globe. No shortage of options for the men this week.
Oeiras 3 125, Portugal:
Just two years ago, Carlos Alcaraz took out this event as an unseeded 17 year old. Since then, it’s fair to say he’s gone on to bigger and better things.
Is there another Alcaraz in this years field? Hard to know, but there are two Aussies. James McCabe and Dane Sweeny gain direct entry (Akira Santillan is in final round qualifying tonight) where Frenchman Adrian Mannarino is placed as the top seed this week.
Florianopolis 75, Brazil:
Brazil hosts another event this week, but compared to the other Challenger events, it’s clearly the weakest. Only Chilean, Tomas Barros Vera, is ranked inside the top 150, so there’s a good chance for a lower ranked player to perhaps gain a few valuable points here. One thing is certain, in its third instalment, there will be a new winner, with two time champion Igor Marcondes no longer on the tour.
Morelos 75, Mexico:
There’s still some hard court tennis going on, and Mexico plays host that event. A few Aussies not keen to get their shoes dirty, will be turning out here. And set your alarms for one of those match-ups. James Duckworth, the top seed, will take on Bernard Tomic, in what should be a fascinating duel. It’s good to see Tomic playing a lot more Challengers, and hopefully he can make a few deep runs soon. Adam Walton is also in the field, taking on a local wildcard, which is a huge opportunity for Adam.
Roseto Degli Abruzzi 75, Italy:
As is seemingly the case every week, there’s a Challenger event in Italy. Last year this event was held in early March, but it’s been pushed back on the calendar this year. No Aussies in action here, but a fairly even draw, which should make for an entertaining week. Austrian Filip Misolic is the top seed, and the 21 year old will be looking to win a few matches, as he hasn’t had a great start to the year, only winning there’s main draw matches so far in 2023.
Tallahassee 75, USA
The green clay returns this week, and some decent names have won here in the past. John Isner, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Mary’s Fish, to name a few. Interestingly, there are no Aussies playing here this week, which is unusual for a North American event. China’s Zhizhen Zhang is the sole top 100 entry, and he’ll be looking to improve on a fairly stagnant season so far.
A couple of nice tournaments for the ladies on the ITF tour this week.
W100 Charleston, USA:
Not quite as impressive as the WTA Charleston event, but still drawing a nice field. Loaded with top 200 players, including Madison Brengle, who is inside 100, this should be a really competitive tournament on the clay.
W100 Oerias, Portugal:
Running concurrently with the Men’s Challenger event (which is a fantastic initiative), Oerias has drawn an exceptional field. No less than ten top 100 players are hitting the courts in Portugal this week, including Czech pair Marie Bouzkova and Linda Noskova. Eugenie Bouchard is also making an appearance here, which will no doubt create some further interest.