9th October, 2023

Patrick Brady and Elena Malygina are the UKPL 2023 Champions

After 8 weeks, 480 matches with over 100 players, the sun sets on a 4th year of UK Pro League. The 2023 Finals Week was hosted last week at the National Tennis Centre, culminating in two dramatic Finals and the crowning of the 2023 Champions: Patrick Brady and Elena Malygina.

Malygina becomes the first two-time UKPL Champion

2023 Champion Elena Malygina (left) with runner-up Alice Gillan (right)

Defending Champion Elena Malygina was on track all week to successfully defend her title. She came top of her pool, won her quarter-final against Arina Vasilescu 6-0, 6-4 and dropped her only set of the week in her semi-final against Andre Lukosiute, which she won 6-4, 4-6, 10-7. Alice Gillan may currently be a few hundred places below Malygina in the WTA ranks (Malygina currently WTA 334), but she beat both Eliz Maloney (WTA 541) and Katie Stresnakova (WTA 537) in the quarter-finals and the semi-finals, proving she was playing at a standard capable of taking on those much higher ranked. The main concern one may have had for Gillan starting the final was her energy levels after playing significantly lengthy matches during the week. Her semi-final against Stresnakova the previous day broke the record for the longest UKPL match ever- Gillan claiming the win 7-5, 6(4), 10-8 in exactly 3 hours. And yet, Gillan showed no sign of low energy at the start of the match. The two women were toe-to-toe throughout most of the first set. Malygina just managed to get the upper hand with a break of serve to go 4-3 up, and won the set 6-4. She then started to stretch out her lead, winning the first three games of the second set.

Gillan did start to come back, evening the score in the second set at 4-4. However, when Malygina got a break of serve for 4-5, it left the defending Champion serving for the set. The first championship point arrived at 15-40 in the subsequent game. You would be forgiven for assuming the match was about to wrap up at this point- but you’d be mistaken. Gillan remained staggeringly calm against an understandably increasingly frustrated Malygina over the next 35 minutes, as she repeatedly blocked Malygina from the win.

First, Gillan managed to save two match points to break for 5-5. Undeterred, Malygina broke back for 6-5- another chance for her to snatch the win. But five more match points were saved by Gillan in the next game before she managed another break of serve to trigger a set tiebreak. Gillan initially led the tiebreak 3-0, but it was Malygina’s turn to collect herself and fight back. She evened the score at 4-4 and then pulled ahead. Gillan saved an astonishing eighth championship point before Malygina, finally, after 2 hours 30 minutes, got her win. 6-4, 7-6(5). Elena Malygina and Alice Gillan provided spectators with a Final that will no doubt go down in UKPL history. A valiant effort from Gillan was enough to delay, but not prevent, Malygina from getting her deserved second title. The £7500 runner-up prize should hopefully provide some consolation for the Brit, but it is Elena Malygina who scoops up another golden pineapple. A huge congratulations to her.


Patrick Brady becomes the first teenager to take the Men’s title

2023 Champion Patrick Brady (left) with runner-up Giles Hussey (right)

There was no time to recover from the excitement of the women’s final before Patrick Brady and Giles Hussey were on court ready for the Men’s. It was only Brady’s second ever UKPL Week, and yet, his second final. His win on his debut in Week 7 scored him enough points to qualify for the finals, and it was going to be interesting to see how he’d fare against other top UKPL players. He rose to the challenge, defeating former UKPL Week Winners Hamish Stewart and George Houghton to win his pool and soaring through the quarter-finals and semi-finals with straight-set wins. However, Hussey was sure to be his toughest opponent yet– 8 years his senior and sitting nearly 400 places above him in the ATP rankings, Hussey had not dropped a set all week.

Brady seemed unperturbed by these facts, however, swiftly getting the upper hand in the first set by securing an early break for 2-0. He led the way the rest of the first set; a second break of serve from Brady left Hussey trailing 5-1 at one point, and Brady went on to win the set 6-3. Both men were pulling out all the shots, it was a match packed full of incredible points to the delight of the growing crowd. The second set had a similar tale to the first; despite his best efforts, Hussey just wasn’t able to stop Brady from winning the first 4 games. A last-minute break from Hussey came too late, and Brady wrapped it up 6-3, 6-3. A beyond impressive showcase from the youngster, and his name now joins the likes of Liam Broady, Anton Matusevich, and Kyle Edmund on the golden pineapple trophy. An exciting prospect for British tennis – congratulations Patrick!

Andre Lukosiute and Harry Wendelken take 3rd 

Andre Lukosiute

Wildcards Andre Lukosiute and Harry Wendelken won their respective 3-4th playoffs to take bronze, with Katie Stresnakova and Oscar Weightman landing in 4th. See all results from the week here. 

All matches are available to rewatch at www.ukproleague.tv