Djokovic returns to No.1 with 10th Australian Open victory
The 2023 men’s tennis season began as it left off. Novak Djokovic, winner of the ATP Finals in Turin, continued his inexorable march to the apex of tennis when he extended his match-win streak to 28 at the Australian Open, securing a record-extending 10th singles title.
A second Grand Slam showdown against Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final ended with 35-year-old Djokovic winning his 22nd major and regaining the No.1 ranking. It’s a position he has held on and off for 373 weeks.
Djokovic was at the peak of his powers in January, beginning the year in Adelaide with a 92nd ATP singles title and holding back fast-rising American Sebastian Korda in the final. The Serb’s confidence gathered momentum at the Australian Open, where he dropped one set en route to the final.
“So far I have a perfect score in Australian hard courts, in Adelaide and here,” said Djokovic, who became the third oldest man in the Open Era to win the AO title after Ken Rosewall and Roger Federer.
“I’ve been playing better and better. I couldn’t ask for a better situation to be in at the moment.”
Until his 13th career encounter with Djokovic, Tsitsipas also had a perfect score Down Under. Reveling in the support of Australia’s vibrant Greek community, he was undefeated in four United Cup matches and rarely faltered in his march to a second career Grand Slam final, the first coming two years ago at Roland Garros against Djokovic, his teammate at Laver Cup London 2022.
Tsitsipas now sits at No.3 in the ATP Singles rankings, while Djokovic intends to extend his lead with more Grand Slam glory in 2023.
“I have professional goals and ambitions,” Djokovic said. “Those are Grand Slams and being No.1 in the world. Those two probably pinnacles of the professional tennis world have always been there as goals for me. So I do want to make more history of this sport, no doubt.”
A growing army of exceptional players in their mid-20s are crowding out the top 10, including two from North America, Felix Auger-Aliassime (#7) and Taylor Fritz (#8).
According to Rod Laver, for whom the Laver Cup is named, tennis is at an exciting stage with many young contenders on the cusp of a breakthrough.
“All the young guys coming up, they’re showing promise of making it all the way to the top,” said the tennis legend, a front-row favorite at Rod Laver Arena.
“They’ve all come out making great shots and winning, which kicks them further up.”
Among the final four in Melbourne was Team World 2022 alternate Tommy Paul, who eliminated No.24 seed Roberto Bautista Agut to set up a highly-anticipated quarterfinal with compatriot Ben Shelton, playing his first Grand Slam outside of the US.
They became the first two Americans to face-off in the final eight of a Grand Slam since 2007 when Andy Roddick beat Mardy Fish at the Australian Open.
Laver Cup captains Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe, will keenly watch developments as they look to build their six-man teams for Laver Cup Vancouver in September.
The top three ranked players for Team Europe, and the top three for Team World, based on their ATP singles ranking the Monday after Wimbledon (July 17, 2023), receive an automatic invitation to represent their teams. The remaining three will be Captain’s picks and named before the start of the US Open.
“There are many exciting new players coming through on both sides, ” noted Laver. “That’s good for the whole competition.”