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June 2023

The tennis season is arguably at its peak in these summer months, with two Grand Slam events within less than a month of each other.

Roland Garros

With no Rafael Nadal, there would have been many men fancying their chances of a deep run at Roland Garros this year. The biggest early upset on the men’s side was 2nd seed Daniil Medvedev, recently crowned Rome champion, who lost in the First Round to Thiago Seyboth Wild. Jannik Sinner also lost early to Daniel Altmaier, leaving the bottom half wide open.

One year on from an awful ankle injury that ruled him out for the rest of the season at the same venue, Alex Zverev rediscovered some of his best tennis to make the Semi Finals once again. He would play Casper Ruud, who beat Holger Rune in an all-Scandinavian Quarter Final. Despite many sub-par results this year, it seems Ruud has an ability to peak for the biggest events, as he dominated Zverev to make his third Grand Slam Final out of the last five.

The other half saw the two pre-event favourites potentially facing off in the Semi Finals: Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic. Both men played impressively to reach the Quarter Finals stage, where Djokovic had to fight to beat Karen Khachanov in four sets.

Alcaraz faced a potentially difficult match in Stefanos Tsitsipas, but he dominated the Greek to set up a first Grand Slam meeting with the Serb. Whilst neither man played their best, the first two sets were gruelling, and saw the match level at one set all. However, at the start of the third set, Alcaraz had fully body cramps. Due to the rules, he had to forfeit his own service game in order to receive treatment, but no amount of stretching or medical attention could remedy him, and Djokovic cruised through the remaining two sets, to set up a Final with Ruud. The Norwegian came out firing, and was up an early break. But, Djokovic came back to take the first set on a tiebreak, and then carried through that momentum to win in straight sets and gain a record 23rd Grand Slam title. He also wrestled the world number 1 ranking back from Alcaraz.

One of the biggest stories on the women’s side was 16-year-old Mirra Andreeva, who qualified for the main draw, and then came through two rounds, dropping only three games in each. She then faced Coco Gauff, who burst onto the scene as a teenager herself at Wimbledon a few years ago. Andreeva took the first set on a tiebreak, but Gauff recovered to win in three sets. One of the pre-tournament favourites, Elena Rybakina, was forced to withdraw from the event before her Third Round match. Meanwhile, defending champion Iga Swiatek was taking no prisoners, collecting four bagels (6-0 sets) in her first three matches. She faced Gauff in a repeat of last year’s Final in the Quarter Finals, and came through fairly easily to set up a meeting with Beatriz Haddad Maia, who had come through a series of long matches, including in the Quarter Finals against Ons Jabeur. Swiatek was pushed to a tiebreak in the second set, but ultimately came through to make the Final.

In the other half, third seed Jessica Pegula was soundly beaten in the Third Round by Elise Mertens. The path seemed clear for Aryna Sabalenka to meet Swiatek in the Final. However, Karolina Muchova had other ideas. She took out eighth seed Maria Sakkari in the First Round, and produced an even bigger upset in the Semi Final against Sabalenka in three sets. Many thought the Final would be a piece of cake for Swiatek, and they would look to be proved right at first, after the Pole raced to a 6-2 3-0 lead, But the Czech would not give up and fought back to take the second set. Muchova was a break up twice in the third set, and looked like she might win her first Grand Slam title, but Swiatek proved why she is a champion, and got over the line 6-4 to win her third Roland Garros title and her fourth Grand Slam title.

Wimbledon build-up

This part of the tennis calendar is absolutely relentless, as the short grass season started the day after the Roland Garros Men’s Final. Alcaraz opted to play a Wimbledon warm-up event for the first time in his career, and that decision paid off, as the Spaniard won the Queen’s ATP500 event, beating Alex de Minaur in the Final. It also meant he regained the world number 1 ranking, and will be the top seed at Wimbledon. Halle had a surprise winner in Alex Bublik, with the maverick Kazakh beating names like Sinner (retired), Zverev and Andrey Rublev to win his first ATP 500 title. Two former Wimbledon Finalists, Nick Kyrgios and Matteo Berrettini, made comebacks from injury on the grass, but with no success as they both only played one match and lost convincingly.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova won the WTA 500 grass court title in Berlin, beating Donna Vekic in the Final. There was an all-British Final in Nottingham, as Katie Boulter beat Jodie Burrage to win her first WTA title, and Jelena Ostapenko and Ekaterina Alexandrova also picked up titles in Birmingham and S’Hertogenbosch respectively.

Wozniacki announces surprise return to tennis

Former world number 1 Caroline Wozniacki retired three years ago, and has had two children since, but she has stunned the tennis world by announcing that she will return to professional tennis, aged 33. She has been awarded wildcards into the Montreal WTA 1000 event and the final Grand Slam of the year, the US Open.

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