Following dominant wins by Carlos Alcaraz in Barcelona and Iga Swiatek in Stuttgart, can anyone stop the pair in their separate pursuits of Roland Garros and beyond?
Both Iga Swiatek and Carlos Alcaraz have overcome stiff opposition to retain their respective titles in Stuttgart and Barcelona. In doing so, it seems that the two players have solidified themselves as the dominant players on clay in the run up to Roland Garros.
After missing the Monte Carlo masters due to damage to his left hand and muscular discomfort in his spine, there seemed to be concern amongst fans that Carlos Alcaraz’s clay court season may be severely hampered.
However, those worries were quickly laid to rest when the 19-year-old superstar stepped onto court in Barcelona.
Alcaraz didn’t drop a set en route to the final, where his opponent would be the number two seed, Stefanos Tsitsipas.
While Tsitsipas started the better of the two when he broke Alcaraz early on in the first set to lead 2-1, this lead did not last long and would be the only time that Tsitsipas led the match.
Alcaraz broke back immediately and was in imperious form as he dismantled Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-4 to retain his title.
The Complete Tennis Player?
Alcaraz is fast becoming one of the most complete players in world tennis.
He not only possesses extraordinary power and precision off both his forehand and backhand, but also has the ability to mix it up with a beautifully disguised drop shot that has become one of his trademarks.
Alcaraz hit nine drop shot winners against Tsitsipas in the final at Barcelona.
Amongst one of the things that makes Alcaraz so exceptional, and hard to beat, is his astonishing court coverage. Perhaps only Novak Djokovic moves around the court as well as Alcaraz, with his speed making him a nightmare for any player.
The wide range of shots and lightning-fast court coverage makes it hard to look past Alcaraz as the heir apparent to the Roland Garros title, which is likely to be abdicated by Nadal this year due to a hip injury he sustained at the Australian Open.
Alcaraz looks nailed on to dominant men’s tennis for years to come, if injuries don’t hamper him, and at only 19 the scary thing is that he is only going to get better.
Occurring adjacent to the Barcelona Open, the final in Stuttgart also produced a meeting between the top two seeds at the tournament.
Iga Swiatek met Aryna Sabalenka in a repeat of the 2022 final, which had seen Swiatek triumph in straight sets. Unfortunately for Sabalenka, the 2023 final would be repeat rather than revenge.
Despite some spectacular hitting from both players, it was Swiatek who triumphed in straight sets 6-3, 6-4 to retain her title in Stuttgart. By doing so, Swiatek became the first woman since Angelique Kerber in 2016 to do so.
The triumph for Swiatek has furthered solidified her status as the best player in the world, and makes her a definitive favourite to retain her title at Roland Garros next month.
Tennis’ Dominant Forces?
Both Swiatek and Alcaraz seem to be on track to dominate tennis for the rest of 2023, especially seeing as Nadal’s hip and Djokovic’s elbow appear to be damaging their seasons.
Barcelona marked Alcaraz’s third title of 2023 and Stuttgart Swiatek’s second. The pair seem to be the dominant forces on clay and will likely both be favourites for Roland Garros.
For Alcaraz, the main competition is likely to come from Jannik Sinner and Holger Rune, while for Swiatek it is likely that Coco Gauff and Sabalenka will provide her the biggest challenge at Roland Garros.
With both being so young, it stands to reason that we could be looking at not just this season’s dominant pair, but the dominant pair for years to come.
The must see at Wimbledon 2023?
It remains to be seen how the rest of the clay court season will play out for these two superstars, but if their form continues as it has been then they will definitely be the pair to watch out for at Wimbledon in 2023.
Wimbledon has always been the tournament where players become legends, and these clay court specialists will be desperate to prove they can produce the same quality on the green grass of Wimbledon.
Make sure you don’t miss the two best players in the world when they take their place on Centre Court in the summer.
To get the best seats in the house look no further than Wimbledon Debenture Tickets, the best way to experience your Wimbledon adventure.
Check out our other articles of ‘The Order of play at Wimbledon 2023’, as well as an expert view of the seating arrangements, down below.