Carlos Alcaraz hoists the Queens Club trophy.

Photo : @QueensTennis

With Wimbledon fast approaching, the mix of favourites at the All-England Club remains as murky as ever with some unexpected results on both tours during the biggest warm-up week ahead of The Championships.

Some of the tour’s best appear to be finding their feet on grass, while other top stars are struggling. One week to go.

Here’s what you need to know.

In Case You Missed It: Marino seizes an opportunity

Three 500-events last week provided potentially the best glimpse at who could be the contenders at Wimbledon starting next week, but the Canadian focus was elsewhere.

Rebecca Marino was the first Canadian to make a run on grass last week, reaching her first quarter-final on any surface in 2023 at the WTA 250 Rothesay Classic.

Getting into the draw as a lucky loser, Marino took full advantage of her second chance by defeating Wang Xiyu and Emina Bektas to reach the last eight in Birmingham before falling to a familiar foe, Zhu Lin, for the third time in four matches this year.

Denis Shapovalov got another win under his belt when he finally scored his first win in four meetings with Lloyd Harris in Halle, but lost in the second round to Alexander Zverev. Bianca Andreescu fell in the first round of the WTA 500 event in Berlin.

After losing in the semifinals of Roland-Garros to Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz confessed that he does not feel that his chances of defeating the Serb would be any better at Wimbledon, as his game is not fully there yet on grass.

Read also: The Weight of a Nation for Brits on Grass

The young Spaniard quickly countered his own words by claiming his first title on the surface last week at the Queen’s Club. Alcaraz narrowly survived a first-round clash with Arthur Rinderknech in a third-set tiebreak but from there he cruised, beating Jiri Lehecka, Grigor Dimitrov, Sebastian Korda and Alex de Minaur all without dropping a set.

With the win, Alcaraz takes back the No. 1 ranking from Djokovic once again after having surrendered it at Roland-Garros. It is the sixth time the top spot has changed hands already in 2023, the most in a year since 2018. The Spaniard will now be the top seed at Wimbledon.

In Berlin, a familiar face might be gearing up for a run at the All-England Club as two-time Wimbledon Petra Kvitova won the title at one of the biggest grass-court events on the WTA tour ahead of The Championships.

Read also: The Dawn of a New Era on the WTA Tour

Kvitova emerged from a loaded field that included world No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka and defending Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, both of whom lost in the second round. In total, seven of the WTA’s Top 10 were playing in Berlin, but only Kvitova, Caroline Garcia, and Maria Sakkari reached the quarter-finals.

Of all the champions last week, the biggest surprise came in Halle where Alexander Bublik claimed the title, defeating Borna Coric, Jan-Lennard Struff, Jannik Sinner, Zverev, and Andrey Rublev on his way to the biggest title of his career to date.

*(Year-to-date titles/career titles)

What to Watch: Last-Minute Prep

Only one week remains for players to get their bearings on grass ahead of the biggest jewel not just of the grass swing, but of the tennis season as a whole.

Bianca Andreescu and Leylah Annie Fernandez are already up and running in Bad Homburg, scoring first-round wins on Monday morning.

Read also: Top Five Cinderella Runs at the National Bank Open in Toronto

Fernandez dominated Lena Papadakis, losing just one game to book a second-round clash with ninth seed Anna Blinkova. She could meet world No. 1 Iga Swiatek in the quarter-finals. The Pole is playing her first event on grass in 2023.

Andreescu is the fifth seed in Bad Homburg and reached the final there last year. She beat Sonay Kartal in the first round and will face Rebeka Masarova in round two. She could play either Alize Cornet or Emma Navarro in the quarter-finals and is in the bottom half of the draw with second seed Liudmila Samsonova.

The biggest event on either tour this week is the WTA 500 in Eastbourne, where Caroline Garcia is the highest-ranked player present along with fellow top-tenners Jessica Pegula, Ons Jabeur, Coco Gauff, Petra Kvitova and Barbora Krejcikova.

Read also: Felix Auger-Aliassime Excelling Off the Court

Eastbourne features a blockbuster first-round match between the two WTA titlists from last week, Kvitova and Jelena Ostapenko.

No Canadian men are competing in ATP Tour events this week. There are two 250 events on the schedule, in Birmingham where the field is led by Taylor Fritz and Tommy Paul, and Mallorca where Stefanos Tsitsipas is the top seed.

In the most literal sense, all tennis fans should be logging into Netflix and watching part two of Break Point. The last five episodes of the first season dropped last week, picking up right where the actual tennis season is with the third major of the year at Wimbledon.

Canada’s FΓ©lix Auger-Aliassime is one of the players involved in the series and was featured prominently in the fifth episode of part one at Roland-Garros.

Under the Radar:

It was a busy week for the Canadians on the ITF circuit with Stacey Fung and Liam Draxl both scoring titles.

Fung won her third title of the season at the W25 in Wichita, tearing through the draw without dropping a set. With the win, she jumps into the Top 250 in the WTA rankings for the first time to a new career-high of No. 229.

Read also: The Aliassime Method

Draxl had a big week, winning the doubles title at the M15 in Santo Domingo, while also reaching the singles final, losing a heartbreaker 10-8 in the third-set tiebreak. The doubles win was his first of the season and fifth on the ITF circuit.

Benjamin Sigouin also reached a doubles final at an M25 in Tulsa. Justin Boulais and Joshua Lapadat reached the singles quarter-finals of the same M15 in Santo Domingo where Draxl reached the final.

Draxl will look for more success in the same city this week at a M25 event with a large Canadian contingent. There is also a W25 event in Santo Domingo with a group of Canadian women in action.

Read and listen: Layne Sleeth and the Grass Swing on Match Point Canada

Play is already underway at the All-England Club as qualifying for Wimbledon takes place this week.

Gabriel Diallo got his bid going with a three-set win on Monday, but Vasek Pospisil lost in straight sets. Pospisil was playing his first match since February.

Three Canadian women are in the qualifying draw: Katherine Sebov, Carol Zhao, and Eugenie Bouchard. A player has to win three matches to qualify for the main draw.

You can follow the Canadians in action every weekΒ here.

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