The Australian Open principally serves two main functions: Entertain us and set the desk for the remainder of the tennis season.
Following a pleasant two-week run that noticed Aryna Sabalenka‘s first Slam title, plus some surprising mid-tournament plot twists, early-tournament Andy Murray heroics, robust showings from American males and — oh yeah, Novak Djokovic‘s 22nd Slam title — we are able to say that the event formally achieved the previous.
Now let’s do the latter. It is time to lay out who appears to be like one of the best and who’s most certainly to make runs at future Slams.
This is what to anticipate, and what to observe, from the tennis months forward.
The ten finest males’s gamers on the planet for the time being
We all know that ATP and WTA rankings — and the event seeds which are derived from them — should not essentially predictive energy rankings, and that was by no means extra clear than in Australia, the place the highest seed on the boys’s aspect went to Rafael Nadal, who entered the event having misplaced six of his previous seven matches whereas battling harm. The second seed went to Casper Ruud, who entered having misplaced eight of 13. They each exited within the second spherical, whereas Djokovic, the No. 4 seed however apparent betting favourite, rolled to the title.
To find out the precise finest gamers on the planet for the time being, then, I will use a mixture of ATP/WTA factors, my favourite publicly out there predictive score (the straightforward Elo score system at Tennis Abstract) and a mixture of my very own eyeballs’ impressions and a have a look at who performs finest towards different prime gamers.
It doesn’t matter what strategy we use, after all, there is just one chance for the highest title on the boys’s aspect.
1. Novak Djokovic
ATP rating: 1
Tennis Summary rating: 1
2023 file (Australian Open consequence): 12-0 (champion)
With a lot of the world easing up on COVID-19 restrictions and vaccination necessities, Djokovic has been capable of play sufficient tennis to seek out his prime type once more. He started 2022 in (completely self-inflicted) scattershot type, profitable in Rome and reaching the finals in Belgrade however falling in a number of quarterfinals and clearly missing the health ranges we’re used to seeing from him.
Since shedding in 4 units to Nadal within the French Open quarterfinals, nevertheless, he has misplaced simply twice. He floor out his seventh Wimbledon title in the summertime, and he gained 5 of the six tournaments he has entered for the reason that fall. He misplaced just one set in November’s ATP Finals, and after shedding a second-set tiebreaker to qualifier Enzo Couacaud within the second spherical in Melbourne, he gained the ultimate 17 units he performed. Solely 4 went to even 5-all.
Djokovic will flip 36 in Might, however he has as soon as once more established his most dominant degree. With Nadal in such poor type, and assuming Djokovic’s hamstring harm would not take a flip for the more serious, it appears there is likely to be just one potential rival for Djokovic in 2023. However that rival has to return from harm first.
2. Carlos Alcaraz
ATP rating: 2
Tennis Summary rating: 2
2023 file (Australian Open consequence): 0-0 (withdrew due to a leg harm)
He hasn’t performed since retiring within the quarterfinals of the Paris Masters in November, however the reigning US Open (and Rio and Miami and Barcelona and Madrid and Umag) champion took benefit of Djokovic’s low event complete to race to No. 1 on the planet. He gained seven matches in a row towards top-10 opponents final spring.
He ran out of fuel late within the yr, then suffered a pair of accidents — an stomach tear within the fall and a hamstring harm that prevented him from competing in Melbourne — however his trajectory, and his capacity to show weaknesses into strengths in file time, is one thing we’ve not seen since Nadal’s and Djokovic’s rises. He’s on tempo to return in February, and I am simply going to imagine he finds a rhythm fairly rapidly.
3. Stefanos Tsitsipas
ATP rating: 3
Tennis Summary rating: 3
2023 file (Australian Open consequence): 10-1 (runner-up)
So many prime gamers we assumed could be getting into their peak years for the time being are struggling to keep up type and produce outcomes. Ruud has achieved nearly nothing since profitable the second set of the US Open closing towards Alcaraz. Daniil Medvedev is all the way down to twelfth within the ATP rankings, and Matteo Berrettini has fallen out of the highest 20. Alexander Zverev remains to be working again from his grotesque French Open harm.
Tsitsipas, nevertheless, has accomplished properly. Not counting 5 losses to Djokovic — who, once more, is again to a different aircraft of existence — Tsitsipas is 15-4 towards top-10 opponents since final Might. His 0-3 file towards Alcaraz suggests he may have the ability to hope for under a No. 3 rating shifting ahead, however he seems to be a step forward of the remainder of the pack, a minimum of.
4. Andrey Rublev
ATP rating: 5
Tennis Summary rating: 13
2023 file (Australian Open consequence): 4-3 (misplaced to Djokovic in quarterfinals)
Until you do not assume Alcaraz will discover fifth gear for a short while upon his return, the highest three appear fairly clear for the time being. Nothing else within the males’s sport makes a lot sense for the time being, nevertheless, and it would not actually really feel like anybody deserves the No. 4 rating.
Rublev is as shut as anybody to deserving it, nevertheless. The 25-year previous nonetheless has but to achieve a Slam semifinal, and he began the yr poorly within the Adelaide tournaments, however he has made the quarterfinals of six of his previous 10 Slams, and he is 6-5 in his previous 11 matches towards top-10 opponents (5-3 towards non-Djokovics). He took down Holger Rune in an unimaginable five-setter in Melbourne, and solely the draw (which positioned him in Djokovic’s quarter) most likely prevented a semifinal run or higher in Australia. He has a number of rankings factors to defend this spring, however he is in adequate type to probably do exactly that.
5. Daniil Medvedev
ATP rating: 12
Tennis Summary rating: 4
2023 file (Australian Open consequence): 5-2 (misplaced to Sebastian Korda in third spherical)
Two units into final yr’s Australian Open closing, Medvedev had definitively established himself as one of the best participant on the planet. He had swept Djokovic within the earlier U.S. Open closing, and he was up two units on Nadal in Melbourne. He misplaced the following three units, nevertheless; it was the start of what’s now a nine-match shedding streak towards top-10 opponents.
However his type is strong. He gained in Vienna in October, he misplaced three third-set tiebreakers (!!) in a powerful however winless exhibiting on the ATP Finals, and he misplaced solely to Djokovic in his Adelaide tuneup. He misplaced a pair of tiebreakers to an almost flawless Korda — tiebreakers have gotten a critical challenge — however he nonetheless performed largely properly in Melbourne. Within the absence of an apparent No. 5, I will give the 27-year-old the good thing about the doubt.
It appeared Fritz had hit his ceiling for some time there. The 25-year-old spent most of 2019-21 ranked within the 20s and 30s however broke by that ceiling in 2022. And he did so with Netflix’s cameras targeted on him. As one of many topics of the “Break Level” sequence, he beat Nadal and Rublev to take the Indian Wells title in March, then gained a pair of different titles and reached the semis of the ATP Finals.
The final step in Fritz’s growth: Coping with life as a favourite. Previously yr he has gained seven matches towards top-10 opponents however misplaced six to opponents ranked within the triple digits, together with first-week upsets in three of his previous 4 Slams. As quickly as he learns to convey a minimum of his B-game in each match, his rating might rise even increased.
Everybody else’s instability was nice for Auger-Aliassime in 2022. After a disappointing second-round exit on the US Open, the 22-year-old unleashed a 16-match profitable streak within the fall earlier than shedding to Holger Rune, Fritz and Ruud in succession. He completed the yr a career-high sixth within the ATP rankings, persevering with a positive and regular rise (he was twenty first on the finish of 2020, eleventh on the finish of 2021). He hasn’t began 2023 in superb type, nevertheless. He misplaced to Popyrin in his first match at Adelaide 1, and he dropped 4 units in his first three Australian Open matches earlier than falling to Jiri Lehecka within the fourth spherical.
FAA has gained solely 47% of his factors in 2023; the profitable streak is not that far within the rearview, however he is shedding a few of the good thing about the doubt.
8. Jannik Sinner
ATP rating: 17
Tennis Summary rating: 6
2023 file (Australian Open consequence): 5-2 (misplaced to Tsitsipas in fourth spherical)
Sinner’s speedy rise has stagnated a bit. His end-of-year ATP rankings surged from 78th in 2019 to thirty seventh in 2020 to tenth in 2021, however after lacking a number of weeks right here and there due to numerous illnesses, he did not play as many matches in 2022 and slipped to fifteenth. Since beating Alcaraz twice over the summer time, on each grass (Wimbledon) and clay (Umag), he has misplaced his previous 4 matches towards top-10 opponents. He fell to Korda in Adelaide, too.
Nonetheless, as with Medvedev, his robust Tennis Summary rating suggests his type is not too far-off from the place it must be. He took Tsitsipas to 5 units in a nip-and-tuck fourth-round loss in Melbourne, and his upside is clear. He went 15-4 on clay in 2022, and if the harm bug is kinder, he might be significantly harmful within the coming months.
9. Holger Rune
ATP rating: 9
Tennis Summary rating: 9
2023 file (Australian Open consequence): 3-2 (misplaced to Rublev in fourth spherical)
Rune was the 2022 model of Sinner: The 19-year previous’s end-of-year rating was 473rd in 2020, 103rd in 2021 and eleventh in 2022. He was nonetheless taking part in challengers as not too long ago as final April, however he took down Tsitsipas within the French Open fourth spherical, and he surged within the fall, reaching 4 finals and profitable two. He beat Tsitsipas once more to win Stockholm, and he is the one individual previously 4 months to beat Djokovic, having taken a 7-5 third set to win the Paris Masters.
Rune was upset by Yoshihito Nishioka in his solely Adelaide tuneup match, however he performed properly in Melbourne, profitable three straight-set matches earlier than falling to Rublev in a fifth-set tiebreaker. His serve might enhance, however he already has one of many sport’s nastier forehands, and his upward trajectory is jarring.
10. Karen Khachanov
ATP rating: 13
Tennis Summary rating: 21
2023 file (Australian Open consequence): 8-3 (misplaced to Tsitsipas in semifinals)
Regardless of dreadful latest type, you can make the case that Ruud has accomplished sufficient to advantage the No. 10 spot right here. Cameron Norrie, maybe. Even Sebastian Korda. However Khachanov’s pure steadiness earns him the spot for now. He has spent a lot of the previous 5 years ranked within the teenagers or 20s, and he is again as much as thirteenth following his semifinal run in Melbourne.
It wasn’t a simple run, both. He took down Frances Tiafoe within the third spherical, then put up a pair of bagels towards Nishioka, profitable 6-0, 6-0, 7-6 within the fourth. He took an exhilarating first-set tiebreaker from Korda within the quarters, too, earlier than Korda suffered a wrist harm that finally led to his retirement.
Khachanov nonetheless appears to have a tough ceiling — over the previous yr, he is 8-5 towards gamers ranked between eleventh and thirtieth however 0-11 towards top-10ers — however with so many prime gamers out of shape for the time being, he has an opportunity to rise even additional.
The ten finest ladies’s gamers on the planet for the time being
Notice: Simona Halep went 39-11 and reached seven semifinals in 2022 and due to this fact ranks second on the planet in Tennis Summary’s Elo rankings. However she will be able to’t actually go right into a “finest for the time being” checklist till we all know how a lot time she’s going to overlook to suspension.
1. Iga Swiatek
WTA rating: 1
Tennis Summary rating: 1
2023 file (Australian Open consequence): 6-2 (misplaced to Rybakina in fourth spherical)
If 2023 outcomes have been all that mattered, Swiatek would most likely be No. 2 behind Sabalenka. Swiatek has loved loads of robust moments in January, dealing with Belinda Bencic with relative ease within the United Cup and dropping six mixed video games in her second- and third-round wins in Melbourne. However she has additionally misplaced a pair of straight-setters, first to Jessica Pegula within the United Cup after which to Rybakina.
Nonetheless, the 21-year-old — sure, she’s by some means nonetheless solely 21! — loved a fall stretch by which she gained 17 of 18 matches (and eight of the 17 wins have been towards the WTA prime 10). And her 2022 dominance implies that her 10,485 scores factors are greater than double that of No. 3 Ons Jabeur. She has regarded mortal in January, however she’s nonetheless the most secure guess in ladies’s tennis.
2. Aryna Sabalenka
WTA rating: 2
Tennis Summary rating: 4
2023 file (Australian Open consequence): 11-0 (champion)
She double-faulted on 26% of her second serves in 2022 — amongst prime gamers, solely Coco Gauff and Daria Kasatkina got here anyplace near that — and ended up holding lower than 70% of the time. In a approach, that compelled the remainder of her sport to get stronger. She nonetheless reached the semifinals of two WTA 1000 occasions (Rome and Cincinnati), and together with her serve rebounding she reached the finals of the WTA Finals, ending the yr fifth within the WTA rankings.
Now she has discovered her serve once more. (She has held 88% of the time in 2023.) She has reached a minimum of the semifinals of 4 of her previous six Slams, and she or he simply loved a long-awaited breakthrough in Melbourne. If Swiatek is certainly nonetheless one of the best participant on the planet, Sabalenka is a transparent No. 2.
3. Jessica Pegula
WTA rating: 4
Tennis Summary rating: 6
2023 file (Australian Open consequence): 8-2 (misplaced to Azarenka in quarterfinals)
Pegula’s keep in Melbourne ended with a little bit of a thud when she misplaced 6-4, 6-1 to Azarenka. It was significantly disappointing contemplating each how good she had regarded in January and the way a lot her aspect of the draw had opened up with fourth-round upsets to each Swiatek and Gauff.
A Slam breakthrough is the one factor remaining on Pegula’s to-do checklist after a spectacular couple of years. She has reached the quarterfinals of 4 of her previous 5 Slams, and she or he reached the semis of 4 WTA 1000 occasions, profitable in Guadalajara and reaching the finals in Madrid. Her greatest energy is an absence of outright weak spot, and whereas an absence of elite traits may preserve her from profitable a Slam, her upside was apparent in her 6-2, 6-2 United Cup torching of Swiatek.
4. Coco Gauff
WTA rating: 6
Tennis Summary rating: 8
2023 file (Australian Open consequence): 8-1 (misplaced to Jelena Ostapenko in fourth spherical)
Gauff ran out of fuel final yr, shedding her final 5 matches within the fall and dropping from fourth to seventh within the WTA rankings. However she was ridiculously sharp in rolling to the Auckland title and profitable three straight-set affairs in Melbourne earlier than her upset loss to Ostapenko. She appears to have raised her service sport as a lot as Sabalenka: After profitable 59% of her service factors in 2022, she’s at 67% in January, and she or he had saved 83% of break factors earlier than going a disappointing 0-for-3 towards Ostapenko.
This was an extremely encouraging begin for the 18-year-old. Gauff reached the French Open finals and the quarters of each the US Open and three WTA 1000s regardless of clear and apparent room for remaining development. If she maintains this serve, her ceiling will get even increased in 2023.
5. Ons Jabeur
WTA rating: 3
Tennis Summary rating: 3
2023 file (Australian Open consequence): 3-2 (misplaced to Marketa Vondrousova in second spherical)
Like Gauff, Jabeur suffered a bumpy finish to 2022, shedding 4 of her final seven matches (albeit three to top-10 gamers). Not like Gauff, she hasn’t began 2023 with aplomb. She fell to teenager Linda Noskova within the semifinals within the first Adelaide event, and she or he wanted three units to win her first-round match earlier than shedding in three within the second.
Her return sport has slipped simply sufficient to make matches much more troublesome, and she or he gave the impression to be placing a ton of stress on herself towards Vondrousova.
That is comprehensible in a approach — she had reached the finals of the previous two Slams however misplaced each — but it surely’s not useful. She stays a contender and is likely to be one of the best participant on the planet on grass, however for the primary time shortly she should reverse a run of poor type.
The 29-year-old loved one of the best yr of her profession in 2022. She gained in Cincinnati as a part of a 13-match summer time win streak, she reached her first Slam semifinal on the US Open, she gained the ATP Finals within the fall and completed the season No. 4 within the WTA rankings. She even gained the French Open doubles title with Kristina Mladenovic as well. And she or he acquired a fairly pleasant attract Melbourne, too.
Gradual begins towards Leylah Fernandez within the second spherical (she needed to win a first-set tiebreaker) and towards Laura Siegemund within the third (she misplaced the primary 6-1), nevertheless, have been indicators that she wasn’t fairly in fifth gear in Melbourne. She survived each matches however suffered an error-heavy, straight-sets loss to Linette within the fourth. It was a letdown after an excellent run within the fall. We’ll see how she responds.
7. Elena Rybakina
WTA rating: 10
Tennis Summary rating: 18
2023 file (Australian Open consequence): 7-3 (runner-up)
She has gained 14 of her previous 16 matches in Slams, however she has gone simply 14-10 in non-Slams in the identical interval. She has crushed 10 top-20 opponents on this span and misplaced to 6 outdoors the highest 20.
So what’s actual? You are positive to get each opponent’s A-game while you attain a pair of Slam finals, and Rybakina appears to wish to play her approach into tournaments. The 23-year-old did not get any rankings factors for profitable Wimbledon, however now that she has risen into the highest 10 after her run in Melbourne, that would make for extra favorable attracts, and we all know what occurs if she reaches the late rounds of a event. (She has gained two-thirds of quarterfinals and semifinals in her profession and 6 of eight since final summer time.) She will get the good thing about the doubt after what we simply noticed, however extra consistency is required.
Again-to-back upset losses in Slams have distracted us a bit from how good Sakkari has in any other case regarded. In between her second-round loss to Xiyu Wang within the US Open and her third-round upset towards Zhu, she reached the finals in each Parma and Guadalajara and reached the semis within the WTA Finals in Fort Value with straight-sets wins over Pegula, Sabalenka and Jabeur. And she or he started 2023 with additional oomph in her merely above-average return sport, too.
Her serve betrayed her in a 7-6, 1-6, 6-4 loss to Zhu — Zhu created 15 break factors and broke 5 occasions — however Sakkari’s sport is trending properly general. That is vital contemplating she has a number of factors to defend in each Qatar (the place she reached the semis final yr) and Indian Wells (finals).
9. Belinda Bencic
WTA rating: 9
Tennis Summary rating: 5
2023 file (Australian Open consequence): 8-2 (misplaced to Sabalenka in fourth spherical)
Bencic began 2022 horribly, shedding 5 of her first 10 matches and almost falling out of the WTA prime 30. However she went 37-13 from there, charging again into the highest 15 regardless of a sequence of poor ends in Slams. She dropped just one set in rolling to the Adelaide 2 title, and it appeared like she would have a strong likelihood towards Sabalenka within the fourth spherical. However after taking a 4-2 lead within the first set, Bencic misplaced 11 of the final 14 video games and fell 7-5, 6-2.
The attract Melbourne was unkind, however the 25-year previous has nonetheless made the quarters of simply one in all her previous 10 Slams. It is her non-Slam type that has introduced her again into the highest 10 and makes her a participant to look at within the upcoming WTA 1000s.
Fairly a number of gamers have a declare for the No. 10 spot — Azarenka for reaching the semis in Melbourne, Kasatkina for rating eighth within the WTA rankings, Paula Badosa or Danielle Collins (and even Madison Keys) for being persistently robust. However we’ll give it to Kudermetova, if solely as a result of she would have been an apparent top-10 choice earlier than a disappointing Australian Open.
She fell to Volynets, a qualifier, however she reached the quarterfinals of Adelaide 1, then beat each Collins and Azarenka on the best way to the semis of Adelaide 2. And over the previous yr, she has gone 9-6 towards top-20 opponents and 4-4 towards the highest 10. Regardless of being ineligible to play at Wimbledon, she gained 9 matches within the different three Slams of 2022, greater than doubling her profession win complete there.
5 women and men most certainly to win the French Open
Clearly gamers’ type will shift continuously within the coming months, however primarily based purely on what we have seen of late, let’s set the desk additional by forecasting the remainder of the yr’s Slams.
The primary two listed here are extraordinarily apparent. The No. 3 decide is an indication of respect. Nadal will miss the following few weeks due to a hip harm, however he may nonetheless have time to play his approach into type within the spring. And even when he is at solely about 80% or so, his 112-3 profession file at Roland Garros is a reminder that he shall be absurdly harmful right here.
A 3-time finalist (and one-time winner) at Roland Garros, Halep would undoubtedly land on this checklist if she have been to return, however that does not seem seemingly for the time being. As a substitute, we’ll go together with final yr’s champion (Swiatek) and runner-up (Gauff), a participant who loved a clay-court breakthrough in 2022 (Jabeur, who went 17-4 on clay and reached the finals in Charleston, Madrid and Rome) and two who broke by in 2021 (Sakkari made the French Open semis that yr, whereas Badosa went 17-3 on clay that yr).
Sabalenka might clearly match right here, too — she made the ultimate in Stuttgart and gained in Madrid in 2021 — however we’ll say she bears a bit extra burden of proof on the dust.
5 women and men most certainly to win Wimbledon
3. Matteo Berrettini
5. Andy Murray
Alcaraz has performed six complete tour-level matches on grass and has misplaced to each of the top-20 gamers he has gone towards there (Medvedev in 2021, Sinner in 2022). His growth has been so speedy, nevertheless, that I will simply assume he does properly in London this summer time. Regardless of latest type, Berrettini and his huge serve nonetheless earn a spot on the checklist, and possibly that is the yr Tsitsipas harnesses his personal huge serve into an honest run. (He is by some means simply 5-5 all-time on the All England Membership.)
Sure, the title within the No. 5 spot relies as a lot on sentiment as high quality. However Murray has confirmed lately that he is as aggressive and fiery as ever, and if he has yet another deep Slam run in him, it will be most poetic right here.
5. Petra Kvitova
Jabeur’s selection and creativity interprets superbly on grass — she’s 21-3 on the floor over the previous two years, with two titles and a Wimbledon finals look (a three-set loss to Rybakina). That consistency offers her a slight edge over each final yr’s champion and Sabalenka, who beat her on the best way to the Wimbledon semis in 2021.
It is a digital three-way tie, although, adopted by Swiatek (who hasn’t thrived on grass however remains to be Swiatek) and one other sentimental alternative. Petra Kvitova, now 32, stays a big-hitting menace able to taking part in at a excessive degree — she’s seventh within the Tennis Summary rankings. She has made solely two Slam semis previously eight years, but when she’s ever to make one other six- or seven-win run, it will seemingly come the place she lifted the trophy in 2011 and 2014.
5 women and men most certainly to win the US Open
OK, fantastic, Djokovic must be No. 1 right here, too. However we wanted just a little little bit of selection, and Alcaraz proved so rattling a lot in New York final yr.
A everlasting Rybakina breakthrough might reshape this checklist, however for now we’ll go together with (A) the 2 finest gamers on the planet, (B) the 2 finest People and (C) in Bencic, a participant who appears to play her finest within the U.S. All three of Bencic’s Slam quarterfinal appearances (and her solely semifinal) have been on the US Open, and she or he has made the semis lately in each Indian Wells and Miami, too. If she’s ever going to make a seven-match Slam run, New York is likely to be the most certainly location.