Interesting developments are taking place in the world of tennis, and by the look of things there could be surprises in store in both the men’s and women’s sections in the coming months. The players head first for the clay court season next month and then to the events on grass in June. One thing is clear, both the ATP and WTA rankings will need close scrutiny every week from now on as there will be changes galore.

In the men’s section even as the duel for supremacy between the established superstars and the GenNext players is reaching a climax, newer stars are emerging every week. It is clear now that tennis fans will not only follow the exploits of Stefanos Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev but will also keep an eye on how Casper Rudd, Matteo Berretteni, Carlos Alcaraz, Jannick Sinner and Taylor Fritz are climbing up the ranking ladder. There are many players who are performing admirably, as a result the established duo of Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are under an increasing threat. This despite the fact that Djokovic is still No 1 (after being replaced briefly by Medvedev) and Nadal winning the only Grand Slam played so far this year for his record breaking 21st title.

Clear proof of things getting increasingly crowded at the top was provided by the victories of Fritz at Indian Wells and Alcaraz at Miami. Almost all the leading players took part in the back to back Masters 1000 tournaments, but two “lesser fancied” players emerged winners. Alcaraz accomplished something that was even beyond his more illustrious fellow Spaniard Nadal who made it to the Miami finals five times but could not win it. At 18 he emerged as the youngest champion in the tournament’s 37-year history, replacing another great – Djokovic. Alcaraz, who turns 19 next month, showed just why many experts in the tennis world believe that he is currently the hottest young property in men’s tennis. He has rapidly climbed to No 11 in the latest ATP rankings, it is only a matter of time before he breaks into the top ten.

Fritz, 24, has also had a meteoric rise in the rankings and is currently at an all time high of No 13. He has been consistent for the last couple of years but the American’s victory at Indian Wells has really made him an exciting prospect. The fact that he beat Nadal in the final snapping the Spaniard’s 20-match winning streak made it something very special and marked the first time that an American had won the Indian Wells title since Andre Agassi in 2001.

Ruud, the 23-year-old Norwegian who lost to Alcaraz in the final at Miami, has also been climbing up steadily in the rankings. Currently he is enjoying an all time high of No 7 and is especially proficient on clay so his best could still be round the corner. As for Berretteni he continues to be among the most dangerous opponents around the circuit. The 25-year-old Italian's credentials include being a Wimbledon finalist last year ,and his current ranking of No 6 has been well and truly earned.

If anything, the women’s event, long in the shadow of the men’s because of the lack of a dominant player since the eclipse of Serena Williams, is now in the news. Ashleigh Bartley is perhaps unwittingly responsible for this. Her sudden decision to retire last month after being the world No 1 and winner of the Australian Open this year made blazing headlines the world over. The affable Aussie who turns 26 later this month seemed to have the tennis world at her feet. She had the game and the credentials, winner of three different Grand Slams, to emerge as the outstanding player the women’s game so badly needed. Whatever the reasons behind her decision it has thrown the field – already wide open – to be even more so.

Now the cynosure is Iga Swiatek the new No 1 who celebrated her elevation by winning back-to-back tournaments at Indian Wells and Miami. The 20-year-old Polish player is the first woman to win the opening three WTA 1000 tournaments in a season. The winner of six WTA titles, Swiatek is the first player to win 17 consecutive matches on hard courts in a single calendar year since Serena won 20 straight hard court matches in 2015.

Swiatek is the only Polish player, male or female, to have ever held the No 1 ranking in singles. She also has a Grand Slam title – the French Open in 2020 – and though she is the toast of the tennis world right now, she cannot afford to take things easy for there are a number of players hot on her heels and the field continues to be open.