WTA / ATP: Shelton, Monfils and Siniakova rule

A packed schedule witnessed champions lift trophies from Europe across to Asia.

Ben Shelton / Demi-finale US Open 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

From first-time champions to evergreen winners, it was another enthralling week.

The ATP and WTA welcomed a collection of captivating matches as the European indoor swing gathered pace and there was also plenty to fight for in Asia. Here are the headlines you may have missed...

Making memories in Tokyo

It was a matter of when, not if, for Ben Shelton

This time last year the American was competing for ATP Challenger silverware and started the 2023 campaign ranked No.96. Now, the 21-year-old is a first-time ATP champion having taken the trophy in Tokyo.

Shelton prevailed in a triple of three-setters and ousted compatriot Tommy Paul en route to the final, where he dispatched Aslan Karatsev 7-5, 6-1 on Sunday.

"That meant a lot to me and my team," said Shelton, joining his coach and father Bryan Shelton as a titlist.

"We have been working really hard since the beginning to build my game and win titles on the ATP Tour. I made some deep runs lately. You see the great champions, they finish weeks off. They win titles, they don't just get to finals. They are able to maintain their level throughout the week."

"I am not saying I am anywhere there yet, but to be able to do it for one week, put together five matches in a row in Tokyo is really special."

Shelton surges up to a career-high world No.15 ranking, having built momentum with US Open semi-final and Shanghai Masters quarter-final showings.

The American former college tennis star's brave and versatile brand of tennis is gaining worldwide acclaim.

He's got the looping and booming serves, a panache to transition forward, can slug it out at the baseline. You never know what is going to happen apart from play with a smile and that collegiate 'never say die' attitude. Shelton is rapid on court and is on a rapid rise this season. However, the 21-year-old isn't done yet. 

"I am really looking forward to this tail-end stretch of the year," said Shelton, 14-2 in his past 16 matches.

 "I think it is a great opportunity for me. Earlier in the season I was losing early in weeks, so my match count is not that high, so I am feeling fresh. I am looking forward to finishing the season strong."

Family first for victorious Gael

For the best part of two decades the tennis world has relished watching Gaël Monfils grace the courts.

The gregarious Frenchman arrived in Stockholm down at world No.140 due to a barrage of injuries in recent campaigns, but he clicked back into the groove in Sweden. 

The 37-year-old became the oldest champion in the Nordic Open history adding to his 2011 title by overcoming qualifier Pavel Kotov 4-6, 7-6(6), 6-3 on Sunday.

In doing so, he hailed a "special week for me with my three ladies... my first title as a father."

Monfils' hotshot capabilities were witnessed courtside all week by his mother and wife Elina Svitolina. The 37-year-old told fans their baby daughter Skai also checked in via TV.  

That's 19 successive seasons Monfils has reached an ATP Final. The Frenchman's 12th title propels him up to No.89 in the rankings. In current form it could be another significant rise before the off-season.

Gaël Monfils / Titre Stockholm 2023©Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP

Katerina the marathon master

Czech Katerina Siniakova made a miraculous comeback to claim the Jiangxi Open title.

Saving three championship points, Siniakova collected a fifth singles crown with a 1-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(4) scoreline over compatriot Marie Bouzkova. The three hour, 33 minute rollercoaster is the longest WTA final of 2023.

"It was a really tough and big battle," Siniakova said, who returns to the Top 50.

"I’m really excited and proud I kept fighting until the end. It’s really tough, and sad that just one can win because both of us just left everything out there."

Bublik predicts big Fils future

Alexander Bublik's red-hot week in Antwerp was capped in emphatic style on Sunday with a third career title. 

The mercurial Kazakh utilised his lethal serve, barely dropping points on his delivery across four matches. In the final Bublik dropped one of 37 first serve points to quell the firepower of Next Gen Frenchman Arthur Fils 6-4, 6-4.

"I was pretty much serving all match,” said Bublik. “I told Arthur I was very lucky to beat him in a final before he becomes the next big thing. That was the only option I had, and I executed it well."

It’s a triumph the world No.30 didn't see coming so soon.

“Honestly, when we won the second title (Halle, in June), I said to my coach, ‘Maybe that’s it, maybe we will never win another one’,” quipped Bublik. "It was the greatest feeling ever, so being here again, winning another title, it means the world to me.”

Elise loves Monastir, Monastir loves Elise

Belgian Elise Mertens retained her Monastir title with a dominant 6-3, 6-0 passage past top seed Jasmin Paolini.

Over to Romania and Tamara Korpatsch captured her maiden WTA title with a 6-3, 6-4 scorebaord facing home hope Elena-Gabriela Ruse in the Transylvania Open final.