While a long men’s tennis season nears its final month, the women have indeed reached that stage. Here’s a look at what that means for three notable contenders.

ATP Vienna: Medvedev at the Crossroads

If you look at the professional tennis tour as simply another workplace, then Daniil Medvedev these days is the equivalent of an experienced executive angling for that big promotion–but it’s uncertain if he’ll ever get it. In 2021, Medvedev won the US Open. In each of the next two years, he reached Grand Slam singles finals. But on both occasions, Medvedev was beaten by a tennis titan: Rafael Nadal at the 2022 Australian Open and Novak Djokovic at the 2023 US Open. More significantly, each time, Medvedev’s limitations were exposed, notably in such areas as return position and volley skills.

Now comes the crossroads. Certainly, Medvedev can continue to win titles galore. But, in the interest of better results at the majors, will he invest in skills development, the way Nadal, Djokovic and Roger Federer did? This is not easy, particularly when competing week after week at such a high level. As a test case, consider the concurrent challenge-opportunity Medvedev has in the Vienna final.

The opponent is Jannik Sinner, a man Medvedev has beaten six out of seven times (though Sinner’s only win came in their most recent match, a 7-6(2), 7-6(2) victory earlier this month in the final of Beijing). Given that this is a final and Medvedev is the defending champion, it’s logical to imagine Medvedev winning with his trusty baseline-based style of movement and consistency. But maybe, on those occasional 40-0 moments, he just might stand in closer to return or make his way to net. Sometimes, the chance not taken is the opportunity missed.


WTA Finals Day One: Plenty of Pegula

Nothing is quite as compelling in tennis as the opening day of a year-end, round-robin tournament. The best players are on-site. Everyone is in contention. Barring injury, no one can be eliminated.

Welcome to Cancun, where the best women’s players of 2023 have arrived for the GNP Seguros WTA Finals. Of day one’s four matches, the two I’m most interested in both feature American Jessica Pegula. She starts with singles versus 2022 Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina. Pegula leads their rivalry 2-1, and this fall, has generated excellent results, reaching the final in Tokyo and two weeks ago taking the title in Seoul.

Pegula’s arduous Sunday will end with a fascinating doubles match. Though Pegula and her partner, Coco Gauff, are the world’s No. 1-ranked team, they have yet to win a major. Meanwhile, their opponents, Erin Routliffe and Gabriela Dabrowski, have crafted a remarkable Cinderella story. In only their fourth tournament together, Routliffe and Dabrowski won the 2023 US Open–the first time in the history of women’s tennis that a doubles major has been won by a pair where neither has ever cracked the Top 100 in singles.

So it will be intriguing to see how it goes between this rocketing startup and a pair of top five singles players who also know doubles quite well.

Pegula will be in action twice on Day 1 of the WTA Finals in singles and doubles.

Pegula will be in action twice on Day 1 of the WTA Finals in singles and doubles.


ATP Basel: Auger-Aliassime Getting Back on Track

It’s been a contrasting pair of recent Octobers for Felix Auger-Aliassime. A year ago, October was glorious. Auger-Aliassime that month won three singles titles, a grand conclusion to a breakthrough year that ended with him ranked sixth in the world.

But today marks the first final Auger-Aliassime has reached since last October. His 2023 has been tremendously frustrating, marked by first round exits at Roland Garros, Wimbledon, and the US Open. Prior to Basel, Auger-Aliassime’s match record this month was 2-2.

As the defending champion in Basel, Auger-Aliassime stood to lose 500 ranking points. This week, after fighting off a match point versus qualifier Alexander Shevchenko in the quarters, he faced Holger Rune in the semis in a rematch of last year’s final. Once again, Auger-Aliassime was in control, taking 80 minutes to beat the Dane, 6-3, 6-2 and beat a top tenner for the first time this year. Most notable was that Auger-Aliassime won a sparkling 75% of his second serve points.


In the final, he’ll face Hubert Hurkacz. Auger-Aliassime has won two of their three matches, but Hurkacz won their most recent, taking a pair of tiebreaks on the grass of Halle back in 2022.