The men’s and women’s tours combine again for another 1000 event this week with Rome, following Madrid as a 12 day tournament starting Wednesday, just three weeks out from the French Open.
Main draw match ups still to be revealed but qualifying starts tonight AEST with a stack of Aussies in action - Kim Birrell, Priscilla Hon, Alexei Popyrin, Olivia Gadecki, Thanasi Kokkinakis and Jaimee Fourlis all in action in the opening round.
Plenty of other tennis around the globe to also be played…
ATP Challenger Tour:
Busan 125, South Korea:
Busan has been a staple on the Challenger circuit for most of this century, and always draws plenty of Aussies. It is the place where former Aussie pro Sam Groth recorded the fastest serve in the history of the game - 263km/r. This year is no exception, with Max Purcell, Jordan Thompson, Rinky Hijikata, Aleksander Vukic, Marc Polmans, Li Tu, and Omar Jasika all flying the flag.
Last week in Seoul, we had an all Aussie final, with Purcell and Thompson going head to head. There’s no reason we won’t have similar success this week.
Mauthausen 100, Austria:
Dominic Thiem will be looking to gain some valuable matches in his home country before Roland Garros comes around. Good to see he’s taken this route instead of Rome. I think it’ll do him good to play at home, on the lower tier (not to say his matches will be easy though). There’s a couple of Aussies in the field here, with Dane Sweeny and James McCabe hoping to get some much needed wins on European soil.
Francavilla al Mare 75, Italy:
Situated on the beautiful Adriatic coast, it seems like a nice place to take in some quality tennis. Matteo Arnaldi took out this title last year, ranked 275. He’s now just outside the top 100. More evidence that Challenger tournaments are breeding grounds for success. This year, the unpredictable Frenchman Benoit Paire slots in as the number 4 seed (3 now that top seed Liam Broady has withdrawn). Argentinian, Thiago Agustin Tirante will be the highest ranked player, at 151. He’s jumped up around 70 spots this year, so has a great opportunity to keep the momentum rolling.
Prague 2 75, Czech Republic:
Second week in a row in Prague, and plenty of returning players, including the top 4 seeds, Radu Albot, Dominic Stricker, Norbert Gombos, and Lukas Klein. No Aussies gain direct entry here this week, but good to see Akita Santillan having a crack at the qualifying. He’s been able to get through the quallies a couple of times this year, so hopefully we can see him sneak into the main draw.
The W100 event in Atlanta was cancelled, meaning there is only one W100 tournament happening this week.
W100 Trnava, Slovakia:
Fittingly, the only top 100 player in the field this week, is home town player, Anna Karolina Schmeidlova, who hasn’t played a tournament since Miami, and will be looking for some matches before Roland Garros. She has been as high as 26 in the world, so the talent is there, but she has struggled for consistency in recent years. Not a really strong field, with only two other players inside 170, so she has a good chance to prevail on home soil.
W60 Naples, Florida:
Astra Sharma will be the sole direct Aussie entrant in the field here. Coming off a semi-final run at a W100, she would fancy her chances to go deep again, as she tries to push her way back into the top 200, and hopefully the top 100 again.
W60 Fukuoka, Japan:
A few Aussies playing in Japan this week. Lizette Cabrera, Talia Gibson, and Alana Parnaby will all be looking for valuable points. Lizette is playing her first tournament of the year outside Australia, and will be seeded 4 for this event. Talia has been in Japan for a month or so now, with mixed results, and Alana will be looking to build on her effort last week in Gifu, where she made her way out of qualifying. Britain’s Katie Boulter will be the top seed, ranked 154, but in a fairly open field, the Aussie girls will have their chances.
W60 Zagreb, Croatia:
On paper, probably the weakest of the W60 events this week, with no players from the top 200 competing. All that means though, is that the players who have turned up, have a great chance to earn some points which will go a long way to helping them rise up the rankings. One of those Aussies is Arina Rodionova. Currently ranked 293, she has had three really strong weeks in England, winning two W25 titles, and 1 semi-final. They were on the hard court though, so it will be interesting to see if she can make the transition to clay, and continue the good form.