ATP TENNIS: Can an American win on home soil? The Dallas Open kicks off in three days and welcomes the best players in the United States to a fiercely fought hardcourt battle. We take a look at the best players in attendance and preview their chances of claiming the $112,125 prize.
Very likely to be the highest seed at the tournament, Taylor Fritz will fancy his chances of claiming the fifth singles title of his career. Climbing to world number eight after a very impressive 2022, which saw him win three titles and reach the Wimbledon quarter-final, beating numerous top 20 players on his way, Fritz has become a top player and is clearly capable of beating the best.
It remains to be seen if his 2022 will lead to a great 2023, and looking at his performance at the Australian Open, the American still has some warming up to do. But the tennis season is a long one, and we know he is capable of delivering top-level performances, so he is certainly a player to keep a keen eye on next week.
Beating Frances Tiafoe, arguably the next best player in Dallas, in the final of the Japan Open in October, Taylor Fritz has more than enough the win the trophy here, but his fate will come down to whether or not he turns up on the day. Watch him in his first game in Dallas before making any judgements.
Much like his counterpart Fritz, Frances Tiafoe is fancied by many to go all the way here and is another solid punt that will almost certainly deliver at least one dominant victory.
His form in 2022 was up and down, but at his peak, he looked to be one of the best players on the tour and capable of overcoming almost any opponent, though he struggled to keep up his best for long enough to really challenge for any major trophies.
However, Tiafoe is at his career high of world number 15 and is easily playing the best tennis of his career so far, though he does seem to drop off every now and then when he could really push on and make a claim for a major title.
He is another that raises questions over the form he will turn up with; till he be at his dominating best, or falter at the first hurdle? At the Australian Open, he won his first two rounds against weaker opponents but always looked as if a more experienced player might pick some holes in his game and cause him some real problems. Sure enough, when faced with his first real challenge of Karen Khachanov in round three, he didn’t have enough and was convincingly beaten.
Regardless of the past, he will challenge here in Dallas and has a great chance of walking away with the second singles title of his career.
The reigning champion Reilly Opelka will look to hold onto his crown and claim his third Dallas Open title and kick off 2023 with a bang. He has struggled in recent months with continuing injury problems but is now fit and looking ready to kick-start his career again; Opelka could be the man in Dallas.
Only playing two competitive matches since being knocked out at the second round of Wimbledon, Opelka doesn’t have much recent experience to fall back on and will hope he can muster some match sharpness very quickly if he is to stand a chance of coming away with the trophy.
Truthfully, it is unlikely he will manage to defend his title here as the lack of match time in the last six months will almost certainly come back to haunt him, but he is a two-time champion and a proven winner on hardcourt.
He is also still the world number 49 and not a player to be overlooked due to his towering height of 6’11” and physicality that can dominate even the strongest players. It is hard to predict how well Opelka will fair in Dallas, and a judgement can only be made upon watching his first-round performance. If he manages to get through it, we may be in for a historic display.
The dark horse of the Dallas Open is Denis Shapovalov, a player that is known for his understated consistency and ability to stay in the game right to the death. He turns up in America in a good vein of form, having won his first two matches at the Australian Open and will likely have something to say in the final rounds of this tournament.
Shapovalov had a very fruitful 2022, reaching three ATP singles finals and though he failed to convert any of them into silverware, the experience he will have gained will give him confidence that he can go the whole way in a tournament very soon.
He is still early in his career and looks like he will be one of the best players in the world for years to come so if he doesn’t win here, he certainly will at some point in the near future.
That being said, Shapovalov will be one of the better players in Dallas and looking at how he played in Australia, even in his losses to Novak Djokovic in Adelaide and to Hubert Hurkacz at the Slam, he has a lot to offer at this moment in his career.
He will be one of the favourites to go the whole way. Keep an eye on the Canadian as he advances, and you might just stumble across a winner.