Highlights of the US Open – Will Carlos Alcaraz Retain his Championship?

-Bello Waaliy

Another ATP 1000 event is upon us as the curtain drew on Indian Wells on the 20th of March, 2023. At the end of the last event, 18-year-old Tennis sensation, Carlos Alcaraz, beat Daniil Medvedev in two straight sets 6-3, 6-2 to win his third masters’ title. Elena Rybakina also won the women’s singles finals, beating Aryna Sabalenka 7(13)-6(11), 6-4 in a revenge match after Sabalenka beat her in the 2023 Australian Open finals. However, another page has been turned and everyone has their eyes on the Miami Open masters. 

Sunday, 19th March, the 2nd ATP 1000 tournament of the year began with the finals projected to hold on the 2nd of April. At this event, Carlos Alcaraz was ready to defend his title as more young and hungry men and women vied for it. The tournament started with qualifiers, which lasted for two days, and then the round of 128, then the round of 64, then the round of 32, the final 16, the quarters, the semis, and then the finals came calling.

Everyone has predictions for the last 8 but most agree with the US Open’s official prediction for the final 8 including defending champion, Carlos Alcaraz, Holger Rune, Casper Ruud, Andrey Rublev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Hubert Hurkacz and a man on a tear, Daniil Medvedev. A very worthy and motivated challenger, Stefanos Tsitsipas, who had to pull out of the 2023 Indian Wells masters as a result of a shoulder injury, is however hopeful that he can play pain-free at the tournament. He said, in an interview with the ATP tour “Everything is getting better and I’m heading toward the right direction.[I hope] to play pain-free and just be able to step out there and show something different than Indian Wells because Indian Wells was a big struggle… I hope I get to play with more of an element of fun on the court and not think too much about my arm.”

Holger Rune, the 19-year-old Danish national, also hopes to catch the headlines yet again after wrapping a rather remarkable 2022 season with a win against 22-time grand slam winner and tennis Legend, Novak Djokovic to claim his maiden ATP 1000 title, in November last year in Paris. A win here would be great for Andrey Rublev as well, who won his last master’s title at Indian wells back in 2021. He’s since battled to get back to the finals, only doing it once in Dubai early this year and losing to Daniil Medvedev with a 60% win rate, his lowest since 2019.

Since the tournament began, we have seen sensational matchups as we witnessed Taylor Fritz gets his 150th hard court win in a 6-4, 6-1 versus American Emilio Nava. This was Nava’s first match against a competitor in the top 10 world rankings. Carlos Alcaraz also had a 6-0, 6-2 two straight-set win in the round of 64 against Argentine, Facundo Bagnis. Jannik Sinner is also through to the third round with another straight-set win, although as at the time of publication of this article, the tournament would be at the round of 16. 

In shocking events, especially to British fans, Andy Murray crashed out of the tournament in the first round as he suffered a straight-sets defeat at the hands of Dusan Lajovic. 

For the women’s single, predictions for the final 8 had defending champion Iga Swiatek, who has been in phenomenal form with 37 match wins in a row starting in 2022, Aryna Sabalenka, Coco Gauff, Ons Jabeur, Jessica Pegula, Caroline Garcia Daria Kasatkina, and Maria Sakkari. 

IGA Swiatek, who is now out due to injury, still has her 37-match winning streak intact as she looks to bounce back like she never left. Tunisian, Ons Jabeur crashed out by Varvara Gracheva in the round of 64 as the 22-year-old Russian extended her Miami win streak to 4.

Still a lot of exciting tennis left, with Male and Female doubles coupled with these, it’s a promising time for tennis fans.

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