Titles and finals cap a strong week for Brits on clay
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There was yet more success this week for British players across the international tours, with doubles duo Alicia Barnett and Olivia Nicholls winning the biggest title of their careers and joining Joe Salisbury in adding to an ever-growing total of titles won by Brits so far in 2022.
While there was a break in the WTA tournament calendar to coincide with the Billie Jean King Cup qualifiers, Brits were in action in ATP, ITF World Tennis Tour and ITF Wheelchair Tennis Tour events.
Salisbury supreme in Monte-Carlo
Joe Salisbury headlined the success, living up to his newly gained men’s doubles World No.1 status in claiming the prestigious Monte-Carlo Masters title alongside American partner Rajeev Ram. The pair defeated Columbia’s Juan-Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 6-4, 3-6, 10-7 to win their second ATP Masters 1000 title, and their first ever title as a pair on clay.
Also reaching the latter stages of the Monte-Carlo event was Jamie Murray. Playing alongside India’s Rohan Bopanna, Murray came out on top in three close matches before narrowly losing out 3-6, 7-6(4), 11-9 to Salisbury and Ram in the semi-finals, Murray and Bopanna’s run to the final four in Monaco included an opening defeat of fellow Brit Neal Skupski and his Dutch partner Wesley Koolhof, and a dramatic 7-6(8), 7-6(8) quarter-final victory over Argentinian No.3 seeds Horacio Zeballos and Marcel Granollers.
Barnett and Nicholls claim first W60 title
Continuing their fine recent form in the W60 Bellinzona tournament on the ITF World Tennis Tour were Alicia Barnett and Olivia Nicholls. Playing on the clay in Switzerland as No.1 seeds, the British duo dropped only one set on their run to the final, where they faced Swiss No.2 seeds Xenia Knoll and Oksana Selekhmeteva. Overcoming their opponents’ home advantage, Barnett and Nicholls came from a set down to run out 6-7(7) 6-4 10-7 winners and claim their first ever W60 title.
Off the back of reaching the WTA250 Final at the Lyon Open last month on what was their WTA tour debut, the British pair are climbing up the world rankings and closing in on places in the top 100 – both are at new career highs in this week’s rankings, with Barnett now ranked 119 and British No.3, while Olivia Nicholls has risen to become British No.4 at 124 in the world rankings.
Shuker and Oosthuizen shine in Turkey
Meanwhile, fellow Brits Lucy Shuker, Cornelia Oosthuizen and Felix Gill all took home runner-up trophies from clay court events around the world this week.
Wheelchair players Shuker and Oosthuizen got in some valuable time together on court ahead of next month’s World Team Cup at the Can Uner Open in Turkey. The pair, playing their first tournament together, didn’t drop a set on their route to the final, where they lost out 7-6(4), 6-7(5), 11-9 in a tight match against France’s Pauline Deroulede and Germany’s Katharina Kruger.
A first ever M25 final for Felix Gill
At the M25 Santa Margherita di Pula tournament in Sardinia, Gill reached the biggest final of his career. A series of dominant performances saw him do so without dropping a set, including a 6-3, 6-2 quarter-final win over German No.2 seed and World No.347 Louis Wessels. France’s Laurent Lokoli however proved too strong in the final, winning 7-5, 6-3. Gill has broken into the world’s top 500 this year, and reaching a first M25 final has been on the cards after making the semi-finals at events in Bath and Antalya, and the quarter-finals in Shrewsbury.
Another impressive week in Italy came from Jack Pinnington-Jones, with the young Brit playing well above his world ranking of 605 to reach the semi-finals, where he went a set up against Lokoli before losing out 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(3).
Burrage and Harris best of the Brits in Nottingham
Closer to home, Jodie Burrage and Billy Harris were the best of the Brits at the W25 and M25 events at Nottingham, with both reaching the semi-finals. Burrage lost out to eventual women’s champion Eudice Chong of Hong Kong, with Harris losing in a tight three-set match against eventual men’s champion Hiroki Moriya of Japan. In addition, three further British players also reached the quarter-finals in Nottingham, with Henry Patten, Alastair Gray and Charles Broom joining Harris in the last eight of the M25 event. In the doubles, Eden Silva, Stuart Parker, Julian Cash and Patten all made the semi-finals.
The tournament was the first of two back to back M25 and W25 events being staged in Nottingham, with more Brits competing across the draws in Nottingham once again this week.
The Nottingham events are part of an expanded calendar of pro level international ITF World Tennis Tour events being staged by the LTA in Great Britain this year, providing more opportunities for British players to compete more regularly at a higher level and make progressive ranking gains at the early stages of their career.