Attention turns Stateside with US Open in sight

 - Alex Sharp

The North American hard court season signals the end of the thrilling 2022 clay campaign.

jannik sinner Roland-Garros 2022©Nicolas Gouhier / FFT

The dust has just about settled on a captivating clay court season.

Roland-Garros 2022 was the peak, a fortnight brimming with memorable moments. Now it is time to gear up for a trip to New York. The final major of the season is upon us with the US Open launching into action on August 29th.

Sliding to success

Believe it or not a plethora of top drawer players returned to the red dirt following the brief grass court stint.

World No.10 Jannik Sinner built on his Wimbledon quarter-final quest – where he led eventual champion Novak Djokovic by two sets – to rule Umag.

The Italian replicated a Wimbledon win over fellow NextGen superstar Carlos Alcaraz 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-1 in the Championships match. Could an in-form Sinner strike at Flushing Meadows?

“I have a tough year until now, I had some unfortunate moments, but we worked every time to play better, to be a better player, to be a better person,” reflected the 20-year-old. “I’m very happy to be finally lifting a trophy this year, but I know that I still have a lot of things to improve… It’s all about the process.”

Meanwhile, Roberto Bautista Agut returned to the winner’s circle in Kitzbuhel. 

Caroline Garcia claimed her first ever victory over a current world No.1 in Warsaw. The Frenchwoman dispatched Iga Swiatek in three sets in the last eight, before continuing her resurgence 6-4, 6-1 over Ana Bogdan with the Poland Open silverware on Sunday.

The world No.32 has now won 18 of her past 21 matches!

Heading onto the blue

Elsewhere Marie Bouzkova hailed a “dream” maiden WTA title having dismissed the draw at the Prague Open.

Australian roadrunner Alex de Minaur scuttled out the blocks in Atlanta. The ‘Demon’ regained the trophy to lift his first title since June 2021.

Masters duels around the corner

This week Washington owns the majority of the tennis world attention. That is shared with events going on in Los Cabos, Mexico.

World No.1 Daniil Medvedev returns to the fold within a strong field including Felix Auger-Aliassime and defending champion Cameron Norrie.

Medvedev, the US Open champion, is relishing being back on hard courts, which have witnessed 12 of his 13 tour-level titles.

The 26-year-old, tasting maiden major glory last year at the US Open, is under pressure to maintain his top spot in the rankings, when he’ll be hoping to retain 1000 points at next week’s Montreal Masters.

“For sure I’m watching the battle for No. 1 a little bit,” Medvedev admitted, standing just 775 points ahead of Alexander Zverev. “I can keep it for quite a long time I feel like if I play good here in the hard court swing.”

Roland-Garros champion Rafael Nadal, crunching the ball, has ramped up practice after more injury agony halted his Wimbledon campaign. The 22-time Grand Slam winner returns to competitive action in Montreal.

Both WTA and ATP Tours take their roadshow from Canada (Toronto and Montreal), to then host a 1000 point event in Cincinnati prior to the US Open.

Osaka keeping it in the family

Reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu continues to experiment with her coaching options, enlisting former ATP Top-20 player Dmitry Tursunov on a trial period.

Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka has also shaken it up. The 24-year-old, expressing all the positivity back on the circuit at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic, San Jose, USA, has recovered from an Achilles injury to hit the hard courts for the first time since reaching the Miami Open final in March.

The Japanese taliswoman has announced a split with coach Wim Fisette. In response, Osaka has returned to her roots, bringing father Leonard Francois, who was her main coach until 2018, back into the set-up.

"I wanted to bring my dad back because he always makes me think outside the box," said Osaka, speaking through a lense of nostalgia. "Whenever I think something is really bad he always makes me realise that things are much more positive than they seem. When I get stressed out he starts dancing or something to make me feel better. 

"So, it's just nice to have him around and it makes me remember the times when I was a kid. For right now, he would be my main coach. I would give him that title."