- Alex Sharp

Few tournaments left but so much to come...

Rafael Nadal US Open 2018©C.Dubreuil/FFT

Into the 10th month of the campaign and you’d think that the tennis season is winding down.

Well, there are plenty of points, prizes and accolades up for grabs before the players head off on their hard-fought holidays.

Trophies to lift


On the WTA side there is the Premier Mandatory China Open in Beijing coming to a climax this weekend with the red-hot form of Naomi Osaka and Aryna Sabalenka on show.

The week after includes the trio of Tianjin, Hong Kong and Linz, which are followed by the Premier Kremlin Cup in Moscow (October 15-20th) and the Luxembourg Open.

By the end of October, the key events on the calendar have been concluded, apart from the season ending finals in Singapore (October 21-28th) and the WTA Elite Trophy (October 30th – November 4th).

 

Over to the ATP and world No.3 Juan Martin del Potro leads the title charge in Beijing, with the China Open trophy and Tokyo silverware on offer this weekend. Then the leading lights contest the Shanghai Masters next week, ahead of a series of keenly contested indoor hard court events. Moscow, Antwerp, Stockholm all feature (October 15-21st), when heads turn to Vienna and Basel at the end of the month.

The indoor campaign culminates with the Rolex Paris Masters (October 29th – November 4th) as the key contenders vie for Next Gen ATP Finals (November 6-10th) and Nitto ATP Finals spots (November 11-18th).



National pride in final duels

 

Reigning champions France will hope to keep their clutches on the giant Davis Cup trophy at the end of November (23rd-25th).

Yannick Noah’s talented team welcome Croatia, led by talisman Marin Cilic, to Lille. The visitors won the prestigious team title back in 2005 and finished as runners-up to Argentina in 2016.

The Fed Cup final (November 10-11th) will also witness a title defence attempt. Prague will be the host as Team USA hope to cling onto the trophy up against the firepower of the Czech Republic.

Both sides have a plethora of options, so it will be fascinating who the captains opt for in battle.

Coupe Davis / Davis Cup ©C.Lecocq/FFT
Chance to rule the order

 

World No.1 Simona Halep unfortunately announced at the start of the month that she has a disk hernia in her back.

It seems unclear of how long such a complex injury could keep the Roland-Garros champion out of action, but her perch at the top of the rankings appears safe for now, with a commanding 2,451 point lead over world No.2 Caroline Wozniacki.

 

Caroline Wozniacki et Simona Halep Open d'Australie 2018©C.Dubreuil/FFT

Back to the men’s and Rafael Nadal remains leader of the pack at 1,035 points in front of Novak Djokovic.

The Wimbledon and US Open champion boosted Nadal’s hopes of retaining the year-end No.1 ranking by not competing in Beijing.

However, Djokovic has plenty of possible points to pick up, with the top spot potentially coming down to the Rolex Paris Masters, or even the season finale in London.

Can Djokovic continue his captivating curve towards the peak of his powers? Can Rafa return from knee troubles in Paris or London to assert his dominance?

Stefanos Tsitsipas Roland-Garros 2018©C.Dubreuil/FFT
Season ending sizzlers

 

Grigor Dimitrov is set to relinquish his Nitto ATP Finals title, falling to 15th in the race to London. The 2017 season-ending champion at the O2 arena is behind the likes of John Isner, Kei Nishikori, Fabio Fognini and Stefanos Tsitsipas in the pecking order.

Nadal, Djokovic, Del Potro and Roger Federer have already claimed their ticket to the O2 Arena. Whilst Alexander Zverev, Marin Cilic, Kevin Anderson and Dominic Thiem currently occupy the other four positions.

Can anyone sneak in?

 

The chase for a WTA Finals spot in Singapore will also be keenly contested right down to the very last shots.

The quartet of 2018 Grand Slam champions Wozniacki, Halep, Kerber, and Osaka have already earned a place, with two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova joining the party.

Elina Svitolina, Sloane Stephens and Karolina Pliskova occupy the three vacant seats, but Kiki Bertens is only 10 points away, with Elise Mertens and Sabalenka waiting in the wings.

A certain Serena Williams lies in 12th in the Race to Singapore. Surely the American can’t overhaul a 625 point deficit to grab a late entry?

 

Next Gen rising

 

A quick scroll over the possible names in Milan for the second ATP Next Gen Finals and fans will be far from disappointed with the line-up.

The scintillating quartet of Tsitsipas, Denis Shapovalov, Alex de Minaur and Frances Tiafoe are all looking comfortable to qualify.