Australian Open: Novak Djokovic chases Rafael Nadal’s report

Australian Open: Novak Djokovic chases Rafael Nadal's record


The first grand slam of the model new tennis season will get underway on January 16 in Melbourne and the 2023 Australian Open is able to supply no end of intriguing storylines.

Chief amongst them is the return of Novak Djokovic one 12 months from his deportation debacle, as a result of the Serb appears to be to match Rafael Nadal’s report of twenty-two grand slam titles.

Djokovic’s preparation for the Australian Open acquired off to the best possible start, worthwhile the Adelaide Worldwide warmup event to secure his 92nd ATP singles title and go stage with Nadal in joint fourth place throughout the all-time rankings.

Solely Jimmy Connors, Roger Federer and Ivan Lendl have obtained additional Tour singles titles.

However, Djokovic suffered an injury scare on Wednesday and was pressured to withdraw from a comply with match in the direction of Daniil Medvedev.

The world No. 5 suggested suggested 9News Melbourne it was the an identical hamstring downside he had all through ultimate week’s Adelaide Worldwide and that his withdrawal in the direction of Medvedev was solely a precaution.

“I merely felt it pulling and I didn’t have to hazard one thing worse,” he said. “I carried out a set and apologized to him [Medvedev] and he was understanding. I merely have to avoid any bigger scares sooner than the Australian Open.

“There was quite a lot of care going into at current’s match regarding the hamstring. It was all correct. Numerous events throughout the match, I felt the muscle was tightening up, nevertheless nothing that may worry me for my effectivity.”

Djokovic is the bookmakers’ clear favorite to win the title Down Beneath and can get his bid for a record-extending tenth Australian Open crown underway in the direction of Spain’s Roberto Carballés Baena on Monday.

“All of us shock how is that hamstring injury of his, the place he said he didn’t have to play that match in the direction of Medvedev and he moreover reduce just some practices temporary,” Barbara Schett, a former expert and current broadcaster, suggested CNN’s Amanda Davies. “Nevertheless he had a great start to the season, he obtained a occasion in Adelaide and he is hungry.

“He wasn’t allowed to play in Australia, wasn’t allowed to enter Australia and it was very onerous for him to digest. I consider now he’s over it and he merely needs to start out out from scratch. He had rather a lot success beforehand on the Australian Open, he obtained the title there 9 events so he feels truly cozy there and the fascinating issue is how he’s going to be acquired.

“In Adelaide the oldsters have preferred him, hopefully it’s going to be the an identical think about Melbourne as successfully. When he walked out onto the courtroom docket the other day for his first comply with he was kissing the courtroom docket so that displays you the best way rather a lot it means to him.

“I consider he’s hungry, he had an excellent leisure ultimate 12 months because of he solely carried out 11 tournaments and he carried out some unbelievable tennis that extended his career … so he is my heavy favorite going into this 12 months’s Australian Open, that’s for optimistic.”

Sadly for tennis followers, considerably these from Spain, males’s world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz is likely to be missing from the occasion in Melbourne as a consequence of a correct leg injury suffered in teaching ultimate week.

The Australian Open would have been Alcaraz’s first grand slam since worthwhile the 2022 US Open in September, nevertheless his place on the prime of the rankings is now beneath threat with Djokovic, Casper Ruud and Stefanos Tsitsipas all able to take the No. 1 spot from him.

Closing 12 months, Alcaraz obtained 5 ATP titles and have change into the youngest No. 1 in males’s tennis when he obtained his first grand slam title in New York. He is the youngest man since Rafael Nadal to enter the very best 10 and win an ATP 1000 title.

On the age of 19 years and 214 days, Alcaraz moreover grew to change into the youngest year-end No. 1 throughout the historic previous of males’s tennis, surpassing Lleyton Hewitt’s report set in 2001.

Fortuitously, the injury doesn’t appear like too extreme as Alcaraz launched in a tweet on Wednesday that he is likely to be returning to the courtroom docket for the Argentina Open in Buenos Aires, which can get underway on February 11.

Flying the flag for Spain on the prime end of the rankings in its place is likely to be Nadal, who is likely to be hoping to defend the title he obtained in 2022.

However, the world No. 2 – the No. 1 seed in Melbourne in Alcaraz’s absence – has struggled with accidents and has made a sluggish start to the 12 months, dropping his solely two matches up to now, on the United Cup.

Nadal has been given a difficult draw throughout the opening spherical and may face thrilling British teenager Jack Draper, who made a blistering start to the season by reaching the semifinals of the Adelaide Worldwide.

“With Rafa Nadal you in no way know,” Schett said. “Everyone knows that many events he’s had struggles with accidents after which abruptly he pops up and wins a grand slam title.

“It was pretty comparable ultimate 12 months the place he hasn’t carried out rather a lot tennis and he rocks up proper right here on the Australian Open and wins the title, so I wouldn’t be taught an extreme quantity of into it that he misplaced two matches on the United Cup.

“In any case, coping with Jack Draper throughout the first spherical is not a easy draw nevertheless with Rafa Nadal, in no way write him off because of he has the experience, notably on the grand slam stage, and I consider he’s longing for additional grand slam titles.”

Completely different notable first spherical ties throughout the males’s draw embrace world No. 14 and ultimate 12 months’s semifinalist Matteo Berrettini taking on three-time grand slam winner Andy Murray, along with the sphere office residence favorite Nick Kyrgios, aiming to grow to be the first Australian champion in 47 years, in the direction of Roman Safiullin.

Iga Światek is likely to be hoping in order so as to add an Australian Open title to her already spectacular resumé, which contains two French Open titles and a US Open crown.

Nonetheless merely 21 years of age, Światek was tipped by many to be the sport’s dominant drive following Ash Barty’s shock retirement from the sport ultimate 12 months whereas occupying the world No. 1 ranking.

Światek now stands atop the rankings and, on the US Open on the end of ultimate 12 months, dispelled any doubts that her grand slam success on clay could not be transferred over to onerous courts.

The Polish star beloved an absurdly worthwhile 2022, worthwhile a staggering eight titles, along with the French Open, US Open and WTA 1000 events in Rome, Miami and Indian Wells.

Światek’s success ultimate 12 months has put her in a single different stratosphere on the prime of the women’s rankings, sitting practically 6,000 components away from world No. 2 Ons Jabeur.

Światek is actually the favorite heading into the Australian Open and is likely to be assured of enhancing on ultimate 12 months’s semifinal look, nevertheless has been given a tricky opening spherical tie in the direction of Germany’s Jule Niemeier.

The 23-year-old made waves ultimate 12 months by reaching the Wimbledon quarterfinals and US Open round-of-16 with some huge hitting and, now ranked No. 68 on the planet, is making her first elementary draw look on the Australian Open.

One amongst Światek’s elementary contenders for the title in Melbourne is likely to be world No. 3 Jessica Pegula, who beat the Pole throughout the semifinals of ultimate week’s United Cup sooner than occurring to win the title.

It was the third Tour win of Pegula’s career, the highlight being the WTA 1000 event in Guadalajara, Mexico, ultimate 12 months, and the US star has grow to be considered one of many additional fixed performers throughout the Tour.

Pegula moreover carried out a key operate in Group USA’s victory throughout the inaugural blended gender workers event, the United Cup, and her blistering start to the 12 months will rightly make her assured of securing a main grand slam title Down Beneath.

Among the many many alternative names extra more likely to go deep on the Australian Open is Jabeur, who beloved a breakthrough 12 months in 2022 by reaching two grand slam finals.

Though she misplaced in every the Wimbledon and US Open finals, Jabeur did win two WTA titles ultimate 12 months, along with the Madrid 1000 event, in order so as to add to her solely earlier title from Birmingham in 2021.

Jabeur’s success in 2022 helped her climb to a career-best No. 2 on the planet and her diversified sport, dangerous on all surfaces, makes her an precise threat in Melbourne, with the expert gained from reaching two major finals little doubt being of revenue.

Teenage well-known individual Coco Gauff is likely to be one different participant hopeful of breaking her grand slam duck after moreover reaching her maiden final in 2022.

Gauff misplaced to Światek throughout the final of the French Open nevertheless impressed on clay, a ground that is under no circumstances her favorite, which might little doubt give her elevated confidence she’s going to go one greater on her hottest ground in Australia.

Though she didn’t win a singles title in 2022, Gauff continued her rise as among the spectacular doubles participant on the planet by worthwhile three WTA titles with fellow American Pegula.

Nonetheless merely 18 years of age, Gauff accomplished 2022 ranked inside the very best 10 in every singles and doubles – seventh and fourth respectively – and will certainly be a extreme contender the least bit 4 grand slams in 2023.

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