Race To Turin Heats Up; Krejcikova Stuns Swiatek
The race to qualify for next month’s Nitto ATP Finals took several twists last week, with key contenders posting mixed results in an important week where hundreds of points were up for grabs. Two players who didn’t rest on their laurels were Novak Djokovic and Taylor Fritz, with both men picking up titles worth 500 points. Djokovic booked his spot in Turin by winning his second consecutive ATP Title, brushing aside a tame Stefanos Tsitsipas (already qualified) in a straightforward final in Astana. Tsitsipas’ woeful record in ATP 500 Finals continued, worsening to 0 wins and 9 losses.
Taylor Fritz surged into qualification contention by winning the title in Tokyo, edging his compatriot Frances Tiafoe 7-6 7-6 in a tough final, where Fritz simply found his best tennis at the key moments. Tiafoe, unfortunately, played the big points rather poorly by his standards. Despite an excellent year, Tiafoe’s wait to win an ATP Title in 2022 goes on. Fritz picked up 500 points as a result of his excellent work in Tokyo and now sits at 7 in the race, with 3 spots remaining. His chances of qualification look extremely high, provided he wins a few matches over the next few weeks.
Daniil Medvedev may be in a strong position to qualify, but his hopes of playing the Nitto ATP Finals took a big blow last week, as he was forced to retire in his semi-final encounter with Novak Djokovic at 1 set all. Medvedev looked to have found his best tennis again after a difficult year, but seemingly picked up an injury towards the end of the second set. The likes of Cameron Norrie and Nick Kyrgios were both hampered by injury and illness this week and saw their chances take a hit, while Andrey Rublev and Hubert Hurkacz managed to keep pace with their rivals by picking up wins in Tokyo.
Meanwhile, Iga Swiatek saw her winning streak in Finals ended by an inspired performance from Barbora Krejcikova in a thrilling encounter which saw Krejcikova triumph 5-7 7-6 6-3 in the final in Ostrava. After a standout 2021, where she won Roland Garros, Krejcikova was having an underwhelming 2022, but has once again found the magic touch on the indoor hard courts, emulating Novak Djokovic by winning back-to-back titles in the last two weeks, having also won the title in Tallinn not long ago. Swiatek, while disappointed with the end result, can still be pleased with some strong performances on a fast surface which she tends to struggle on. For Swiatek, the signs are looking positive for a strong finish to 2022.
Next on the agenda on the WTA Tour is San Diego, which should give a clearer picture of who will qualify for the WTA Finals. Contenders for the tour-end championships like Coco Gauff, Caroline Garcia, Daria Kasatkina and Aryna Sabalenka are all scheduled to play, and will be looking to stake their claim to a spot in Fort Worth in November.