Top 5 tournaments to look forward to after the Australian Open

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The 2018 Australian Open was definitely one to remember. The last fortnight offered nonstop, action-packed tennis, with high-profile shocks, marathon matches, and battles against the elements like we have seldom seen before. After all this, the tennis world seems a little short of breath. Deflated, even. But this need not be so. In fact, although it seems like tennis is going into a bit of a lull in these next few months until Roland Garros, there are plenty of reasons to be excited if you are a tennis fan. Here is a list of five tournaments that you will not want to miss between the first two Grand Slams of the year:

  1. The Rolex Monte Carlo Masters – 15th-22nd April 2018

Monaco is a sporting city that likes to host events of all types in its own specific style, and usually with a touch of glamour. The Rolex Monte Carlo Masters are no exception. The idyllic Monte Carlo Country Club stands overlooking the Mediterranean, between the mountains and the beach below. Its location alone makes it a favourite for both fans and players alike, and in addition to its glamour, it has served up some classic matches. Who can forget Novak Djokovic’s straight sets win over the King of Clay, Rafael Nadal, in 2013? Or Stan Wawrinka’s first Masters 1000 title in 2014, where he beat Roger Federer in three sets?

However you choose to remember the Monte Carlo Masters, the stylish nature of the event and the matches themselves make this a tournament to savour for any tennis fan.
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  1. Indian Wells – 5th-18th March 2018

Forming the first part of the “Sunshine Double,” Indian Wells is a classic tournament that has offered some unlikely champions in the past. Elina Vesnina is the defending women’s champion, and as such, she has good company, with Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova, Simona Halep, and Caroline Wozniacki all having triumphed under the Californian sun. In the men’s draw, results have been easier to predict in the last fifteen years, with Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal all having won here more than three times each. Indian Wells is one of the most established tournaments in the tennis calendar, and players who have won it have often gone on to have great years. Who will take the crown this year?
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  1. Miami Open – 19th March-1st April 2018

Although the final of this tournament will be held on the 1st April, the Miami Open is definitely no laughing matter. It forms the second act of the ‘Sunshine Double’, alongside the aforementioned Indian Wells, but it beats its Californian counterpart because of its intensity, and because it takes place right after the conclusion of Indian Wells, thus making it more challenging to win. Classic matches that stand out include Novak Djokovic’s win over Rafael Nadal in 2011, which set the tone for Djokovic’s incredible year. Moreover, with Miami being the Williams sisters’ hometown, and with Johanna Konta entering the tournament as the defending champion, the women’s draw promises to bring some fascinating match ups this year. Former world #4 James Blake was also announced as the tournament’s new director, so it will be interesting to see the changes that he will bring in this year.
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  1. The Mutua Madrid Open – 4th-13th May 2018

Unlike the other tournaments mentioned, the Madrid Open is far from conventional, and some would say, all the more entertaining as a result. It was the brainchild of Romanian former tennis player and coach, Ion Tiriac, and since its first installment in 2002, the tournament has continued to grab the attention of the tennis world. In 2004, the tournament directors selected models as ball girls, prompting controversy and criticism from Spanish politician, Ines Sabanes. Moreover, in 2012 the tournament’s surface changed from conventional red clay to blue clay, prompting criticism and the threat of a boycott from Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.

Besides the controversy, the Madrid tournament is a spectacle to behold. It offers great preparation for the upcoming French Open, and high-profile visitors, like Cristiano Ronaldo and Luka Modrić (both of Real Madrid), are regulars. As a result, the Madrid Open is not a tournament to be missed.
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  1. Internazionali BNL d’Italia – 7th-20th May 2018

No other tournament on the tour quite compares to the Italian Open (as it is otherwise known). The setting, for one, is breath-taking. The Foro Italico may lie in a tranquil patch of greenery in Italy’s capital, but on match days, it becomes a cauldron. Fans here passionately back their champions, who in turn, announce themselves on the world’s stage before them. Think back to Elina Svitolina and Alexander Zverev’s wins here last year. The Internazionali BNL d’Italia is also a very difficult tournament to win. It comes straight after the Madrid Open (for seeded players), and thus, it levels the playing field for all players in the main draws. Moreover, this is the last chance for players to get some game time before the French Open, so all of the main seeded players will be there, in both men’s and women’s draws, hoping to get a good run in the lead up to Roland Garros. Fantastico.

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