WTA Brings Star Power While ATP Faces Surprises and Injuries: Tennis Updates 2024

Clay SZN: WTA Brings Star Power While ATP Faces Surprises and Injuries

Looking Back at a Turbulent Month in Tennis and Previewing the Women’s Semifinals in Rome.

In the third game of his quarterfinal match in Rome on Wednesday, Alexander Zverev stumbled across the Campo Centrale clay and fell hard. The crowd winced, anticipating another injury-induced early exit on the men’s side during this tumultuous clay season.

WTA Brings Star Power While ATP Faces Surprises and Injuries: Tennis Updates 2024

Until now, Zverev was the sole ATP Top 5 player to avoid injuries or early exits in Roland Garros tune-ups. Tennis Channel’s Brett Haber joked that despite Zverev’s underwhelming clay swing, he might head to Paris as a favorite, given that top players Novak Djokovic, Jannik Sinner, Carlos Alcaraz, and Daniil Medvedev lack momentum. Sinner and Alcaraz skipped Rome due to injuries, while Djokovic and Medvedev delivered lackluster performances.

However, Zverev recovered, beating Taylor Fritz and reaching the Rome semifinals for the fourth time. Despite his perseverance, the last four weeks of professional tennis remain puzzling.

For the past two decades, the ATP has been more predictable, dominated by Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, and Stan Wawrinka. In contrast, the WTA has seen a wider array of major tournament winners. Recently, this dynamic flipped at the last two clay-court Masters 1000s.

Star-Studded Women’s Semifinals vs Unpredictable Men’s Draw

In Madrid, the women’s semifinals featured Iga Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka, and Elena Rybakina—the WTA’s Big 3. On the men’s side, Andrey Rublev, Taylor Fritz, Felix Auger-Aliassime, and Jiri Lehecka, only one of whom was in the Top 10, competed.

This pattern continued in Rome. Thursday’s women’s semifinals feature No. 1 Swiatek vs. No. 3 Coco Gauff, and No. 2 Sabalenka vs. No. 13 Danielle Collins. Collins has had a stellar 2024 season. In contrast, the men’s draw includes Zverev, Alejandro Tabilo, Hubert Hurkacz, Tommy Paul, Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Nicolas Jarry.

Historically, April and May have seen Nadal and Federer, or Nadal and Djokovic, building tension towards Paris. This year, Swiatek and Sabalenka might take on that role.

What’s Behind the Shift?

Madrid and Rome expanded this year, extending nearly two weeks, but the same number of matches and extra rest days should reduce injuries. If the schedule affected outcomes, both tours should see equal impacts.

Also Read: Alejandro Tabilo’s Remarkable Journey: Reaching the ATP Masters 1000 Semifinals in Rome

The ATP’s turbulence may be due to a combination of factors: Djokovic’s age and coaching changes, Alcaraz’s injury proneness, Sinner’s heavy match load and past injuries, and Medvedev’s rare issue. By Roland Garros, these top players should be healthier and ready to compete.

Star Power Shines in the Women’s Draw

For now, the women’s draw boasts the star power. Swiatek faces Gauff, and Sabalenka plays Collins on Thursday.

Swiatek is 9-1 against Gauff and 3-0 on clay. While Gauff beat Swiatek in Cincinnati last year, Swiatek won their last two meetings in straight sets. Gauff’s improved serve, forehand, and attitude in Rome may challenge Swiatek, who has won 20 of 22 sets in Madrid and Rome.

Sabalenka leads Collins 5-0 in their head-to-head, with three of those wins in three sets, including a tough match in Madrid last month. Collins, in her final season, aims to leave it all on the court, promising a fierce and loud semifinal.

Nadal, Djokovic, and Federer typically won these crucial matches, setting up anticipated finals. Swiatek and Sabalenka achieved this in Madrid; let’s see if they can repeat it in Rome. If they do, they might dominate the conversation in Paris in a few weeks.

Also Read: Aryna Sabalenka’s Epic Victory Over Elina Svitolina at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome 2024

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