Sunday, September 10, 2023

Wrapping up another stellar year in men's and women's tennis

Another amazing year of professional tennis has, for the serious part of the season, come to an end. The highlight had to be the year-ended ascent to Coco Gauff's first Grand Slam title, at the U.S. Open. It seems like it took forever for this day to come, so it's easy to forget Coco is still only 19 years old.

That's even younger than Carlos Alcaraz, who lost his chance for a rematch with Novak Djokovik, losing to Daniil Medvedev in the semis. I really enjoy Medvedev's kind of goofball powerful style of play, but he was no match for Djokovik's record 24th Grand Slam win in the final.

With Rafael Nadal presently sidelined, Alcaraz is now my favorite player. This year, Alcaraz won Wimbledon and kept Djoko from a Grand Slam sweep, as he also captured the Australian Open and the French Open. U.S. players Francis Tiafoe, Taylor Fritz, Ben Shelton, and Chris Eubanks are my next favorites. Perhaps 2024 will be the year one or more of them break through for a Grand Slam title, although Shelton and Eubanks could still be a year or two away.

Besides Medvedev and the Americans, I think the only real threats to knock off the two greatest players right now - Djokovik and Alcaraz - are Nick Kyrios, Nadal, Holger Rune, Jannik Sinner, and Andrey Rublev.

Gauff's win was truly remarkable. She was able to outlast the new number-one woman Aryna Sabalenka, who will unseat Iga Swiatek, who has held the number-one spot for 75 straight weeks (third-longest in WTA histroy). That said, Swiatek only won the French, with Sabalenka winning the Australian, and Markéta Vondroušová taking Wimbledon. The women's game seems to be getting some exciting parity, with any one of those ladies possibly winning big tourneys next year. Karolina Muchova, Ons Jabeur, Elena Rybakina, Jessica Pegula, and now maybe even comebacker Madison Keys have real shots at being in that top-level mix soon too. 

My favorite women's players for now are Gauff, Pegula, Swiatek, and Muchova.

It's nice to get a break from all the tennis for the next few months. But it won't be long until the Australian Open and then the fifth-best tournamant, Indian Wells, will bring us back in action. For now, I'll get to focus on my own fall singles TennisDC season starting next week.

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