Week 16


Carlos Alcaraz [2], the biggest young tennis star from Murcia, chose to skip Monte Carlo to rest and compete in Catalonia. He delighted the crowd and successfully defended a title for the first time in his career, winning the Barcelona Open without dropping a set (he was two points away from it in the quarterfinal). After the final, Alcaraz expressed his delight: “It’s incredible to feel this energy and lift the trophy in Barcelona in front of my family, friends, and most members of my team who are here as well. Playing at this level and lifting the trophy in front of them is a great feeling for me.” He has played five events this year, four times reaching the final, and once being five points away from another final (Miami).
Holger Rune [7], the other teenage star born in 2003 (six days older than Alcaraz), successfully defended his title at the Bavarian Championship by defeating Botic van de Zandschulp in the final. The Dutchman had retired in their previous Bavarian final a year earlier after just seven games (chest pain). Rune’s victory was hard-fought and impressive, as he faced challenging circumstances in the decider. Rune trailed 2:5* (15/40) as his opponent began to get frustrated with his own errors sensing his maiden title to be potentially evaporated. Additionally, Rune had been indicating problems with his left shoulder throughout the set and then slightly twisted his right ankle when the score was 4:5 (40/30). Despite these challenges, the Dane fought back to save a double match point on his return again at 5:6 before ultimately prevailing in the ensuing tie-break with domination during baseline rallies. The win was a testament to Rune’s resilience and determination on the court. After the match, he talked about his fatigue: “I was feeling really exhausted, but I was fighting until the end and tried everything I could to come back into the match. I think for the crowd, it was the perfect final. We really pushed each other to the limit, and I am super happy I defended the title today.” With many points to defend in the upcoming five months only during the French Open ’23, Rune has a real chance to finish the season in the Top 5.
The first edition of the Srpska Open was held in Bosnia and Herzegovina, not in Serbia. The 32-year-old Dušan Lajović [70], who reached the Monte Carlo final a few years ago, experienced a week of his tennis life. He defeated the legendary Novak Đoković in a gruelling two-set quarterfinal (his longest 2-0 win; 2 hours 29 minutes), then notched two dramatic 2-1 victories in the semifinal and final; against Andrey Rublev, Lajović was leading 5:1* (30/15) in the 3rd set, but Rublev, who lately wins “lost” matches more often than anyone else, improved to 4:5* (deuce). However, Lajović managed to hold his nerve, deliberately got a warning for time-violation (photo), and captured his second ATP title with a forehand winner after which he celebrated crouching. He expressed his relief and joy: “Honestly, it was probably the toughest match I have had in the past six months. I felt drained. From 5:1 in the third, I could not feel my legs and felt a bit dizzy. I knew he was going to fight, but somehow I managed to pull it out in the last game. I wasn’t even thinking in the last game. I was just playing automatically and tried to take the ball early on the forehand. I am thrilled and overwhelmed that I did it this week.” Only Slavic native speakers advanced to the quarterfinals.


30 years ago, the Monte Carlo tournament was played one week later than this year. Sergi Bruguera won that event for the second time in his career, with his biggest challenge coming in the semifinals against Thomas Muster. Bruguera saved three match points, but Muster would go on to win their nine following meetings. Cédric Pioline, who was an unexpected finalist, proved his skills in the future, becoming one of the most memorable players of the 90s. At the time of the Monaco final, he was already 24 y.o. and many thought it would be his biggest result. The final was postponed due to rain and held on Monday, with the format shortened from “best of five” to “best of three”. Bruguera raced to a 5:0 lead, but needed a tie-break to win the opener. In the second set, he again led 5:0, but that time left Pioline [29] no chance to return.
The event also featured a unique run by Ulf Stenlund, a 26-year-old Scandinavian who was among many blonde Swedes who invaded the circuit in the mid-80s. Injuries forced him to suspend his career, and he didn’t play at all in 1989-90. In the years 1991-94, he was trying to rebuild his career by drifting between Satellites and Challengers. In Monte Carlo ’93, as a player ranked 313, he managed to win three qualifying matches, then in the main draw he stunned two left-handed players, dropping just seven games before losing badly in the third round to his compatriot Jonas Svensson (always dangerous in French-speaking cities). It was Stenlund’s swan song. Another qualifier, 19-year-old Àlex Corretja [92], advanced to the quarterfinals and would go on to become one of the best clay-courters in the 90s.
The fourth leg of the Asian tour in South Korea did not attract big names. Seeded No. 1, Brett Steven was ranked 52. It was one of those events that created a great opportunity to get a maiden title, and Chuck Adams [90] took his chance. In 1992, he was more of a Challenger player, and the title in Seoul helped him enhance his status. In the years 1993-94, he would regularly play at the main level.
…Finals 2023…
Barcelona (ATP 500, clay outdoors)
(1)🇪🇸Carlos Alcaraz d. (2)🇬🇷Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-4
Munich (ATP 250, clay outdoors)
(1)🇩🇰Holger Rune d. (4)🇳🇱Botic van de ZandSchulp 6-4, 1-6, 7-6(3) – 4 m.p.
Banja Luka (ATP 250, clay outdoors)
🇷🇸Dušan Lajović d. (2)🇷🇺Andrey Rublev 6-3, 4-6, 6-4
…Finals 1993…
Monte Carlo ($1.4M, clay outdoors)
(11)🇪🇸Sergi Bruguera d. 🇫🇷Cédric Pioline 7-6(2), 6-0
Seoul ($175K, hard outdoors)
(8)🇺🇸Chuck Adams d. (5)🇦🇺Todd Woodbridge 6-4, 6-4
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