STARNBERG, November 16, 2022 (Guest Post)
There is nothing more exciting than the tennis Grand Slams that take place throughout the calendar year. However, we are expecting that these tournaments will be more open affairs over the coming years, as the men’s game has already lost Roger Federer following his retirement, while the powers of Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal appear to be weakening.
Meanwhile, the women’s game has never been more open than it is right now, and that could present opportunities for some players outside the top rankings. But, which players from Eastern Europe could get themselves into the picture over the coming years when it comes to the massive Grand Slam events on the schedule?
It is no surprise to see Polish superstar Iga Swiatek rank among our up-and-coming players. The 21-year-old is already renowned as one of the finest players on the planet, but the three Grand Slam titles that she has won up to this point could only be the start of her dominance. She has already won the French Open on two occasions, and she will be chasing a third success in 2023.
Meanwhile, she will be looking for further success away from the clay court after winning the US Open in 2022. Her biggest challenge could come at Wimbledon, as she looks to reach the final four of the Grand Slam for the first time in her career. However, few would be willing to bet against the Polish star achieving that feat.
The men’s tennis season will be extremely interesting throughout 2023, as we wait to see who the stars could challenge for a Grand Slam title. One of the most exciting Eastern European players that looks to improve is Alex Molcan. The 24-year-old reached a career-high of 38th in the individual rankings in 2022, and he is currently the top-ranked Slovakian player.
Molcan reached two finals in the 250 Series this year, losing on both occasions in three sets on the clay court. However, he achieved career-best performances in three of the four Grand Slams this season, which included a run to the third round at Wimbledon. He certainly appears to be good value to go further than that in 2023, but whether he is ready to win a Grand Slam title remains to be seen.
There looks to be a new wave of Eastern European talent emerging on the ATP Tour, and one player that could be worth keeping an eye on throughout the 2023 season looks set to be Jiri Lehecka. The 21-year-old reached the final of the Next Gen ATP Finals, before being beaten in straight sets. However, he has had a progressive season to remember, as the Czech player is already the top-ranked player from his home country. At present, he sits at a career-best ranking of 59, and he has won six of the 13 finals that he has played in across the ATP Challenger and ITF Futures series’.
Lehecka has already achieved success at a Grand Slam event, as he won the Junior Doubles event at Wimbledon alongside Jonas Forejtek in 2019. That strong form throughout 2022 could make him a dark horse selection to go deep in Grand Slam events throughout 2023 as he looks to finally go further than the qualifying rounds.
Russian-born Elena Rybakina is another Eastern European star that looks set to have a big 2023 season ahead of her. The 23-year-old made history at Wimbledon in 2022, as she became the first player representing Kazakhstan to win a Grand Slam title. That victory catapulted her into the top 15 in the world, and she has achieved a career-high mark of 12 this year. She has impressed outside of the Grand Slam company throughout her career, having reached eight singles finals on the WTA Tour, which includes three appearances in finals at WTA 500 level.
Her strong ground play game has been evident throughout the previous two years, as she has become more of a force in the Grand Slam events. As well as winning Wimbledon this year, she reached the quarterfinals at the French Open in 2021 and managed to reach the third round at the US Open at the end of last season. Her strong win rate at Wimbledon, which stands at 91% could once again make her a very key player in the race for the Grand Slam title in London in 2023.
About the Author:
David Todva is an experienced writer who has worked in the sports industry for many years. David’s background as a Russian native gives him a unique perspective on Eastern European sports, which he often covers for various outlets.