How Iga Swiatek and Carlos Alcaraz sparked a month of upheaval on the ATP and WTA toursBy Apr 05, 2022
Rafael Nadal notes "historic triumph" by compatriot Carlos Alcaraz in MiamiBy Apr 04, 2022
If 18-year-old Miami Open champion Carlos Alcaraz has any limits, we haven’t seen them yetBy Apr 03, 2022
Carlos Alcaraz defeats Casper Ruud to become youngest Miami Open men's champion, claim maiden Masters 1000 titleBy Apr 03, 2022
Iga Swiatek, Naomi Osaka set stage for stirring rivalry as introverts reign in MiamiBy Apr 02, 2022
Miami Open men's final preview: Casper Ruud vs. Carlos AlcarazBy Apr 02, 2022
Iga Swiatek caps No. 1 ascent with third straight title at Miami Open, Sunshine DoubleBy Apr 02, 2022
Iga Swiatek gaining confidence, not pressure, from winning run through Miami OpenBy Apr 02, 2022
Daniil Medvedev clay swing in doubt after hernia surgery announcementBy Apr 02, 2022
Carlos Alcaraz is not merely a potential star—he is a supernovaBy Apr 02, 2022
How Iga Swiatek and Carlos Alcaraz sparked a month of upheaval on the ATP and WTA tours
Heading into the European clay-court swing, the future of tennis looks a little different than it did before Indian Wells and Miami.
Published Apr 05, 2022
WATCH: Swiatek visits the Tennis Channel desk after her Miami triumph
Because the BNP Paribas Open and the Miami Open don’t lead directly into a Grand Slam event, they’re not normally thought of as bellwether tournaments. Together they make up a month-long span of the tennis calendar that seems to exist strictly, and pleasantly, for its own sun-drenched sake.
If you win one of these two events, let alone both, you’ve done something worthwhile and memorable in its own right. The spring swing also offers a respite for fans; we don’t have to waste our time worrying about what the results in Indian Wells and Miami portend for a Slam down the road, the way we will during the upcoming clay season. We can just watch the matches, which is nice.
Look a little more closely at recent results, though, and you’ll see that what happens in Indian Wells and Miami doesn’t always stay in those two vacation towns. Since 2018, Naomi Osaka, Bianca Andreescu, Ashleigh Barty and Dominic Thiem have made breakthrough-title runs at one of these two tournaments, and followed it up soon after with a breakthrough-title run at a Slam.
Thinking about who just won during this year’s Sunshine Double—Carlos Alcaraz, Iga Swiatek and Taylor Fritz—you have to believe that something similar could happen in 2022. Especially in the cases of Alcaraz and Swiatek.
At 18, the Spaniard is the youngest winner in Miami; he’s on the verge of cracking the Top 10; and he has just about everyone in the sport proclaiming him the next No. 1 and next great male champion. That may sound a bit premature, but after what we’ve seen of Alcaraz in his 18-2 start to 2022, would you dare to disagree?
As for the 20-year-old Swiatek, she’s already No. 1, she already has a major title, and as the first woman to complete the Sunshine Double in six years, she is already dominating the WTA field. Beating a four-time major champion, Osaka, 6-4, 6-0, in the Miami final was a fitting way to cap a back-to-back-to-back title run. If Alcaraz stamped himself as the future over the last month, Swiatek stamped herself as the present.
But the wins by Alcaraz and Swiatek were just part of a broader potential reordering at the top of each tour. It was a month of upheaval in a number of ways:
- Barty retired at 25.
- Novak Djokovic, who has won a combined 11 titles in Indian Wells and Miami, missed both events.
- Rafael Nadal had a great run in Indian Wells, but he also cracked a rib, which will keep him out of the first part of the clay season.
- Six of the leading members of the ATP’s Next Gen—Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Matteo Berrettini, Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime—failed to get out of the quarterfinals in Indian Wells and Miami. Medvedev also announced that he’ll miss the first part of the clay season because he needs to have hernia surgery.
- Two of the WTA’s best players of 2021, Aryna Sabalenka and Anett Kontaveit, won a total of one match in Indian Wells and Miami.
- The U.S. men, led by Fritz, Jenson Brooksby, Tommy Paul, Reilly Opelka, and Frances Tiafoe, surged.
- Osaka, despite her lopsided loss to Swiatek, looked something like the Osaka of old.
- Casper Ruud and Miomir Kecmanovic each took a step forward. Ruud moved up to No. 7 in the rankings, while Kecmanovic climbed 10 spots to No. 38.
In the course of only a month, we’ve seen the stocks of several players rise and fall, and the future of each tour start to look considerably different.
On the women’s side, Swiatek has quickly filled the void at the top left by Barty, and Osaka seems to have shown that she’s in it for the long haul, and still capable of beating anyone.
On the men’s side, the future has both narrowed and expanded. It has narrowed in many people’s minds to Alcaraz alone. But the list of future Top 10 and Grand Slam contenders has also grown to include Fritz, Kecmanovic, Brooksby, Ruud and Cameron Norrie, among others. Probably the biggest surprise of the two tournaments is how poorly the "Next Gen elite" performed. That could change with the shift to clay, where Tsitsipas and Zverev in particular could see their fortunes improve. Right now, though, Alcaraz is overshadowing all of them.
Of course, the more things change in tennis in the 21st century, the more they stay the same. No one would be shocked if Djokovic and Nadal meet for another final at Roland Garros in June. For now, though, the excitement is all centered around Alcaraz and Swiatek, and rightfully so; each of them showed off a dynamic brand of attacking tennis in Indian Wells and Miami. Don’t be surprised if you see them winning with it on bigger stages very soon.