January is my favourite month in tennis. Anticipation of a new season, surprise results and new players making a name for themselves. 2018 was no different and while Andy Murray and Kyle Edmund made the main headlines this month, here are three other stories you may have missed.
1. Liam Broady shows good form ahead of Davis Cup
Liam Broady ended 2017 in good form and has made a solid start to 2018. After early exits in ATP Doha and Australian Open qualifying, Broady surprised Wimbledon crowd pleaser Dustin Brown in the Rennes Challenger as he made the semi finals.
Broady now jets off to Spain as Great Britain prepare for their Davis Cup match on clay. Broady will team up alongside Kyle Edmund, Cameron Norrie, Jamie Murray and Dom Inglot as they try to overcome the tricky Spanish. The home side has a wealth of experience on offer, with Pablo Carreno Busta, Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Roberto Bautista Agut, Feliciano Lopez and David Ferrer in their team.
British fans will be hoping that Kyle Edmund is fully fit after his heroic exploits in Melbourne, while Inglot and Murray have both made good starts and should give Britain a slight advantage in the doubles rubber. Norrie, who failed to qualify in Melbourne, has struggled for form this year but could make his Davis Cup debut in Marbella.
The Davis Cup kicks off on Friday 2 February and will be broadcast live across the BBC.
2. A new British world number one
Alfie Hewett became the world number one in the ITF Wheelchair men’s singles world rankings this month, despite an early exit at the Australian Open.
The French Open champion and US Open runner-up has risen to the top after Gustavo Fernandez failed to defend his Australian Open title. The new ranking was a proud moment for the 20 year old, who said “a dream of mine became a reality” in an emotional post on Twitter.
He said: “It’s been a journey, many highs and lows, pain and sacrifice, tears, fun and enjoyment. However it was worth every moment, because as of today I’m the new world number 1 tennis player.”
Hewett becomes only the second Brit to top the men’s singles world rankings, following Gordon Reid in 2016.
3. GB women struggle
Despite positives from the men’s tour, the same cannot be said for Britain’s best women, who have endured a difficult start to 2018.
Katie Boulter, Laura Robson and Katy Dunne all lost their opening round matches at a 60k ITF tournament in Burnie, Australia, while the likes of Jo Konta and Naomi Broady have also struggled.
Heather Watson’s excellent run in Hobart was swiftly followed by early defeats in Melbourne and St. Petersburg, while Tara Moore and Eden Silva both fell in ITF qualifying in France.
Watson, Boulter and Konta will need to be at their best to get through a tricky Fed Cup group in Estonia, as Britain try to escape the Europe/Africa Zone once more.
The best players has perhaps been Emily Appleton and Katie Swan. Appleton made two ITF 15k semi final appearences to reach a new career high of 638, while Swan achieved some impressive results in Wesley Chapel which saw her cement her top 300 ranking.
Naomi Broady has won over a number of new fans with her excellent commentary for British Eurosport. The British number three provided her insight throughout the first week of the Australian Open and even lended her voice to The Tennis Podcast. It was refreshing to hear Broady’s northern tones behind the mic and hopefully it’s the start of a new career post-tennis. Although, we don’t want her to quit full-time tennis anytime soon! She will be playing in the ITF 100k Midland event, where she has reached the final in the last two years (winning in 2016). She has drawn top seed Mihaela Buzarnescu in round one.