The first Grand Slam tournament of 2023 will start soon.
Let’s have a look at the most important events of the tournament. What are the expectations? Who should we watch? Let’s see together.
Reigning champion – Rafa Nadal
Rafael Nadal, brought the whole tennis world into admiration again, after returning from a tough injury.
He crowned an unforgettable two weeks in Melbourne by defeating Daniil Medvedev in the final and became the Australian Open champion for the second time.
The Spaniard will aim to defend his title and win a record 23rd Slam this year. How realistic this possibility is given his current physical condition is a moot point.
Nadal enters this year’s AO with unfavorable results in addition to his poor health: he has lost six of his last seven matches.
He was also unsuccessful at the United Cup, where he could not overcome the group stage with the Spanish national team.
However, at the pre-tournament press conference, Rafa made an encouraging statement to the fans and said that the preparation process is going well:
“I am satisfied with my preparation recently. I’m also happy to have been able to train three weeks in a row with very little pain. This has not happened for a long time. The basis is suitable. Whether I’m ready for this tournament or not, will show on Monday.”– Rafa Nadal.
The Spaniard, seeded number one, is facing a tricky challenge in the first round: Rafa will play the 21-year-old talent, Jack Draper.
The tall Briton stands out for his brilliant serves and high-level skills at the net. He is one of the worthy representatives of the next-gen.
Nadal’s press conference could not be complete without the topic of Novak Djokovic. Rafa stood out again with his academic answer:
“I cannot control Djokovic. I think about what I can control. Before the start of the tournament, the number one favorite is undoubtedly Novak Djokovic, but you can not win the tournament until it starts. If he can win, it will be a historic achievement. But that won’t change my life.”– said Rafa.
Djokovic’s Australian hegemony
“Rod Laver Arena is connected with the main memories of my tennis career”, – these are the words of Novak Djokovic.
Nole is unbeaten in Australian tournaments since 2018. Five years ago, he lost in the fourth round of the Grand Slam against South Korean Hyeon Chung.
Serbian opened the New Year by winning the Adelaide tournament in Australia. He is currently holding a 34-game winning streak.
A charity match with Nick Kyrgios also helped to create a positive mood. In Melbourne, fans gave him a warm welcome.
As Novak says, he constantly receives positive energy from the local people:
“I’ve had a lot more good experiences in Australia than what happened last year. I always feel comfortable with the people I meet every day. I didn’t feel anything negative from anyone. Everyone treats me well and supports me”.– Novak Djokovic.
Djokovic has a unique opportunity in front of him: he has a chance to win a record 10th Australian major and to equal Rafa Nadal in the Grand Slam race.
Nole’s opponent in the first round will be the 75th-ranked Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena.
Battle for number one
Novak Djokovic, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Casper Ruud – all of them enter the draw with the guarantee that in case of winning the tournament, they will be leading the world rankings.
The Norwegian has to reach the final to claim the number 1 spot. But in this case, Djokovic and Stefanos should not win. If none of these scenarios work out, the injured Carlos Alcaraz will remain intact in the leading position.
Tsitsipas doesn’t have bad results at the Australian Grand Slam: the Greek is a three-time semi-finalist here. The win-loss balance is 15-5.
It will be exciting to watch Casper Ruud, who reached two Grand Slam finals last year. However, he made it to only the fourth round in Melbourne last year.
Also, Taylor Fritz and Cameron Norrie are in excellent shape for the first Grand Slam of the season.
Fritz led the US team and contributed greatly to winning the first edition of the United Cup.
Norrie was the only one who beat Fritz. The Brit’s record this year is already 6-1, he lost in the Auckland final.
There are several outstanding young people in the top 10, who have been actively able to show themselves recently.
In 2022, Felix Auger-Aliassime had his best season. The Canadian finally broke through and started winning titles. He has already collected four trophies. In the first round, Felix is expected to win easily against his compatriot Vasek Pospisil.
Hubert Hurkacz, who brought two victories to the Polish national team at the United Cup, is seeded at number ten. Hubi has never been past the second round in Melbourne but will have a good chance this year. Hurkacz starts with Pedro Martinez in the first round.
Holger Rune, one of the brightest stars of the new generation, is also involved in the case. He recently broke into the Top 10 and is seeded at number nine in Australia. The ambitious 19-year-old Rune will face Filip Krainovic in the first round.
And of course – Nick Kyrgios. This person has proven many times that the rankings are just numbers.
Nick had an impressive 2022 season, reaching his first Grand Slam final at Wimbledon. Had a good chance at the US Open as well, but ended up with disappointment. However, he promised to do his best next year.
Australians consider Kyrgios one of their favorites. Kyrgios says it is a great honor. He showed his best result at this tournament in 2015, when he reached the 1/4 finals. He is expected to improve on that this year. Nick will open against Safiullin in the first round.
As he has said many times, being on the big stage is associated with a lot of stress. So, after winning the Grand Slam, Nick will retire from tennis without a second thought.
The Australian Open will be held from January 16 to January 29.