an Australian Open promised to Novak Djokovic and Iga Swiatek?

Novak Djokovic during the celebration of his ninth Australian Open title, on February 21, 2021, in Melbourne.

You will have to get up early, or go to bed late (1 hour, Paris time), to see the first exchanges at the Australian Open on the courts of Melbourne Park, Monday January 16. In the absence of the world number 1, Carlos Alcaraz, injured in the right leg following a false movement in training, the Serbian Novak Djokovic is the big favorite of the first Grand Slam tournament of the season.

Twice titled in Major in 2022, the world number 1, Iga Swiatek, will try to win her first Australian Open. Will Rafael Nadal, Daniil Medvedev, Jessica Pegula or even Caroline Garcia manage to create a surprise? Overview of the forces present.

Novak Djokovic, the master of the place

Nine times winner at the Australian Open (a record), Novak Djokovic (5ᵉ in the ATP ranking) is back in his garden. Fifteen years after his first title in Melbourne, the Serb once again arrives in the costume of a man to beat. It’s very simple: his last defeat in the tournament dates back to 2018. Since then, only the Australian authorities have managed to prevent him from lifting the trophy, canceling his visa and sending him back from the country in January 2022.

Read also Expelled, Novak Djokovic leaves Australia without glory

Despite a jerky season because he was not vaccinated against Covid-19, “Nole” ended the year in a cannonball by reaching the final of the last four tournaments he played for three titles including the Masters, which brings together the eight best players of the season. And the 35-year-old Serb started 2023 on a high note by winning in Adelaide a week ago. With a tenth title in Melbourne, he would return to match his rival Rafael Nadal in the race for Grand Slam titles (22) and regain the place of world number 1.

Rafael Nadal and Daniil Medvedev back in the foreground?

Rafael Nadal lets his joy explode after his title at the Australian Open on January 31, 2022 in Melbourne.

Conversely, Rafael Nadal, courageous winner in 2022, is in the dark when it comes to putting his title back into play. After winning the Australian Open and Roland-Garros, the Mallorcan was only the shadow of himself since his package before the semi-final of Wimbledon (tear in the abdominals). And the world number 2, not spared from the draw in Melbourne on Thursday, started the season with two defeats in the United Cup.

If he is not at his best, Daniil Medvedev (8ᵉ), an unfortunate loser to the Spaniard in Melbourne a year ago when he was leading two sets to zero, comes out of a 2022 season well. far from its standards. But the Russian, winner of the US Open in 2021, found some colors in early January – semi-finalist in Adelaide against Novak Djokovic – and, above all, he remains in two consecutive finals at the Australian Open.

Many suitors

Behind, the young wolves have the fangs but also present themselves, for the most part, without too much certainty. At 19, Holger Rune (10ᵉ), surprise winner of the Rolex Paris Masters against Novak Djokovic in November and the last player to have beaten him, will have to assume his new status. Always placed but never a winner, Casper Ruud (3ᵉ) will try to win the Grail after two finals in 2022, at Roland-Garros and the US Open, just like Stefanos Tsitsipas (4ᵉ), semi-finalist of the last two editions of the Major Australian.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers At Roland-Garros, Casper Ruud no longer wants to play extras

Andrey Rublev (6ᵉ), six times Grand Slam quarter-finalist, Taylor Fritz (9ᵉ), winner of his first Masters 1000 in Indian Wells in 2022, or Alexander Zverev (13ᵉ) and Matteo Berrettini (14ᵉ), back after a 2022 season truncated by injuries, could also do well.

Iga Swiatek, alone in front of the others

Iga Swiatek during the United Cup in Brisbane, January 4, 2023.

Imperial in her first three United Cup matches to start the season, Iga Swiatek ended the competition in tears after losing to American Jessica Pegula (3ᵉ), before forfeiting the Adelaide tournament on January 7 .

But the Pole, who has never won in Melbourne, remains the huge favorite to succeed Australian Ashleigh Barty, now retired, as she reigned (almost) unchallenged in 2022. The 21-year-old player notably chained an impressive series of 37 victories – stopped by the French Alizé Cornet at Wimbledon –, from February to July, during which she won six titles, including Roland-Garros. Also a winner at the US Open, the world number 1 finished the year with more than double the points (11,085 against 5,055) than her runner-up Ons Jabeur.

Ons Jabeur and Jessica Pegula as outsiders

Absent in Melbourne last year due to a back injury, Ons Jabeur seems to be in the best position to prevent the Pole from winning another Grand Slam title. The Tunisian played (and lost) the final of the last two Majors – at Wimbledon and the US Open – and became the first player from her country and the African continent to reach this stage of the Grand Slam competition.

Read also: Tennis: Tunisian Ons Jabeur receives the medal of merit from President Kaïs Saïed

If she has never passed the quarter-finals in a major tournament, Jessica Pegula (3ᵉ) could finally strike a blow. The American has just won the United Cup with her country, correcting Iga Swiatek (6-2, 6-2).

Caroline Garcia, now or never?

Caroline Garcia in Perth, January 3, 2023, during a United Cup match.

Caroline Garcia, now 4e world after her title at the Masters at the end of the year, continued her momentum in the United Cup where she won her two singles despite the elimination of France in the group stage. La Lyonnaise – defeat in Adelaide in the quarter-finals on January 12 – confided that her “Grand Slam dream” was now ” possible “. A dream she came close to at the US Open, where she reached her first singles semi-final at a major tournament.

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The Lyonnaise will carry all the French hopes on her shoulders. Behind her, the chances are minimal, even non-existent: if thirteen Blues appear in the men’s table, none of them is seeded, while only five French women will be engaged in Australia.


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