With both the WTA and ATP Tours now paused following the season-ending finals of both, top players are taking a well-earned rest, or are they?
I think every match was different, completely different game styles. The match that made me the proudest was today. I played my best tennis, didn’t feel the pressure at all. I felt the crowd behind me, so I just really enjoyed being out there. Panna Udvardy
Just two days after playing the 2022 ATP Finals in Turin, Ruud hopped onto a plane to South America together with Rafael Nadal, heading to Buenos Aires to play an exhibition match on Wednesday, 23 November, at the Mary Terán de Weiss Stadium, commonly known as Parque Roca due to its location within the Parque Polideportivo Roca.
“On our way! Excited to be heading to Latin America with Rafael Nadal. See you soon, Argentina,” tweeted Ruud, while Nadal posted on Instagram: “Now we’re on our way. See you soon Argentina (and after…)”
These are just two of the many top players who will be making lucrative appearances in the off season.
Nadal and Ruud are kick-starting their tour of Latin American in Argentina before heading on to Santiago, Chile, for an exhibition match on Friday, 25 November, and then moving on to Bogota, Colombia, on Saturday 26 November, and Quito, Ecuador on Sunday 27 November 27.
The penultimate day of the tour will be held in Belo Horizonte in Brazil, on Tuesday 29 November, before it ends on Thursday 1 December in Mexico City.
Argentine heroine Gabriela Sabatini, who is 52 and a former World No 3, and 37-year old Gisela Dulko, a former World No 1 in doubles, will join Nadal and Ruud for a section of the tour to play mixed doubles matches.
Nadal and Ruud have met a few times this year, including in the French Open final, which the Spaniard won for his 14th title at Roland Garros, and they also both represented Team Europe at the recent Laver Cup in London.
Meanwhile, on Sunday, after two previous losses in WTA 125 finals, Hungary’s Panna Udvardy captured her first title at this level, defeating Danka Kovinic from Montenegro in straight sets to win the Argentina Open, while Irina Bara & Sara Errani lifted the doubles title.
Udvardy, the 3rd seed, was a 6-4 6-1 winner over the 2nd-seeded Kovinic, after an hour and 25 minutes of play, the World No 83 claiming the clay-court title.
The Hungarian had to survive 3 consecutive 3-setters to make it into the championship match, including a 3rd-set tiebreak against former Roland Garros finalist Sara Errani from Italy in the quarter-finals.
“I think every match was different, completely different game styles,” Udvardy said after the final. “The match that made me the proudest was today.
“I played my best tennis, didn’t feel the pressure at all. I felt the crowd behind me, so I just really enjoyed being out there.”
After an early exchange of breaks, Udvardy turned the final in her favour for good with another break for 4-3 and converted by chasing down a drop-shot, returning it with a drop-volley of her own, then slamming a put-away off the reply.
Udvardy picked up most of her winners with the forehand, which she used to earn her 2 set points at 5-4.
The Hungarian converted her second chance after a Kovinic backhand found the net, wrapping up the one-set lead after 54 minutes.
The first 3 games of the second went against serve, but Udvardy dominated to then reel off the final 5 games of the match, winning 72 percent of points returning second serves leading to a 6-for-9 break point conversion rate.
The doubles final followed, in which Romania’s Bara & Errani beat Korean Jang Su Jeong & You Xiaodi from China, 6-1 7-5, for the title in an hour and 21 minutes.
A lob by Bara fell just inside the baseline on their first championship point, breaking to win the last game of the match.
The Romanian defended her crown to win her 6th career WTA 125 doubles title and remain undefeated in WTA 125 finals, having won last year’s Buenos Aires title alongside Ekaterine Gorgodze, which was one of 4 WTA 125 titles the Bara/Gorgodze pairing won over the last 2 seasons.
It is Errani’s first doubles title in the WTA 125 tier. The Italian is a former World No 1 in doubles, having won titles at all 4 of the Grand Slam events between 2012 and 2014 during her legendary partnership with fellow Italian Roberta Vinci.