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Weekly Recap: Pro Tennis Around the Globe

Weekly Recap: Pro Tennis Around the Globe

What happened in pro tennis around the globe in the past week? Plenty. We can't cover it all here but a few key highlights follow below in order to catch you up on all the action... 

Five Key Takeaways From The First Week In Rome

1. Nadal Out In The Second Round

There have been some major improvements surrounding Rafa Nadal's place in tennis recently. The ranking's up, his injuries seem to be kept at bay, and there's room for one last Vammooos! But this week was a disappointment for the Spaniard with a second round loss to Hubert Hurkacz. Seeded 7th at the tournament, Hurkacz was destined to fight against the 22 time grand slam champion in the second round. But if Nadal hoped for one last title on the shining clay of Court Philippe Chatrier, he would need to be able to beat a player of Hurkacz's caliber, in fact---he would need to beat players of all calibers to lay his hands on the trophy. And with a 6-1, 6-3 loss to the Pole, unfortunately the famed Muskateer's cup seems to be inching farther and farther away from Nadal's hands. 

2. America Holding Strong Oversees

The United States, though only halfway through the event, seems to be holding strong in Rome. Taylor Fritz blasted through his first match, defeating home favorite Fabio Fognini on Friday with an impressive 6-3, 6-4 win. He's up next against countryman Sebastian Korda. Korda, who also played an Italian in Flavio Cobolli, faced a three set challenge but swung his way through none the less. Madison Keys is also playing well this week, and while she has had a rough go on court so far, she's still alive to face 28th seed Sorana Cirstea. Keys knocked out top dog Beatriz Haddad Maia on Saturday. Florida favorite Coco Gauff is also through to the Round of 16. The Delray Beach native made her way through Magdalena Frech and Jaqueline Cristian. Though lower ranked, Cristian proved to be a scary threat to the 20-year-old, winning a convincing second set in their three set showdown 6-0. But, courageous Coco didn't give up and is ready for more action at the Foro Italico. German Dominik Koepfer defeated Frances Tiafoe, and is next up against Tommy Paul. Paul looks to stop Koepfer's positive clay court season and continue on into to the R16. 

3. With Rybakina Sick, Are Swiatek and Sabalenka Destined to Fight Again?

An unexpected illness forced Elena Rybakina to get back on the plane and miss out on a nice Italian vacation, so what does this mean for the women's game? Are Swiatek and Sabalenka, who are on opposite halves of the draw and both playing strong tennis this week, meant to fight in another final? Just last week, we were blessed with what some say is one of the greatest women's tennis matches of all time when Swiatek just edged past the Belerusian in a final tiebreak showdown in the final set. So who could disrupt the path? American Madison Keys always poses a threat. She made it to the semi-finals of Madrid where Swiatek defiantly stormed right on past, but could this week be different? With Swiatek spending a lot of time on court, an unpredictable upset could put Keys through a quarterfinal clash with the Pole, that is if both of them win their next matches. In terms of Sabalenka's half, veteran Elina Svitolina looms, with the very unpredictable Jelena Ostapenko still holding strong. Also in the mix are Americans Sofia Kenin and Danielle Collins who could always disrupt the collision course. 

4. Despite A Freak Accident, Novak Djokovic Is Still Fighting In Rome.

We all gasped when we saw that big, steel water bottle come clonking down right on Novak Djokovic's head as he signed autographs after his first win against Corentin Moutet. But we knew he was OK when he jokingly entered the tennis center's gates this morning wearing a bike helmet, as he said, "coming prepared" for anything that may go awry. Recently though, the Serbian's form hasn't been looking good. He's been getting down on himself on court, losing matches, and confidence, as it seems. So is this one of his famed "off years", or can Nole turn the dial up this week? We often see him form a steady peak in preparation for big ticket events, obviously Roland Garros in mind. So what can we expect from him? Will he touch down in Paris fresh and ready to go? Or is Rome a big indicator to show how well he'll perform at the second slam of 2024? It will all have to depend on how he faces players such as Casper Ruud, Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Alexander Zverev. These are the players he's been struggling with recently, and by "players" I mean "caliber". While a player like Ruud is extremely good, he isn't top three. But Djokovic has been having a rough go of it against these guys. So if Novak wants to get anywhere that trophy, he'll have to start shaping up against these players. Zverev and Shelton are around in his half, and may pose a risk. So let's see how Djokovic can do in just a couple weeks before Paris. 

5. Underdogs Auger-Aliassime and Svitolina Begin Well

Both of these players are in an awkward position in tennis right now. While they show true talent, both are sort of working on a reinvention. With both of their rankings not as high as they want, and frankly not as high as they should be, this year could be a real indicator to where they stand as tennis players. But recently, the level seems to be rising. Felix made the final in Madrid, and Elina has slowly been building back up the ranking. She won her first match convincingly, 6-0, 6-2 against Italian Sara Errani. Auger-Aliassime defeated Botic Van De Zandschulp 6-1, 7-6 in his first battle. So looking at the draw with a full perspective, seeing these underdogs looming in their quarters as potential superstars of the week could be an exciting storyline. And if they can make it past some challenges and dig deep in the draw, these two could potentially make a big scene this week in Rome, so look out!


Written by William Turvey. Top photo: Corinne Dubreuil for ATP Tour

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