The 2022 tennis season ended with the victories in November of Novak Djokovic and Caroline Garcia at the men’s and women’s Masters, tournaments bringing together the eight best players on the circuit respectively. It was a performance for the Frenchwoman, but almost a habit for the Serb, six-time winner of the event.
In 2023, the native of Belgrade should find his most faithful rival for the place of world number 1, the Spaniard Rafael Nadal. Will Carlos Alcaraz be able to retain his crown, acquired at the end of a high-flying 2022 season? And will Caroline Garcia continue her momentum?
The beginning, Sunday 1er January, of the tournament in Adelaide, Australia, marks the start of a new tennis exercise. A brief overview of the main issues of the season.
The Rafael Nadal-Novak Djokovic duel, season 13
The two players have dominated world tennis for more than twelve years. If the Serb leads 30 to 29 in their confrontations, the Spaniard however has more duels won in Grand Slams (11, against 7). Which of the two will end up with the most major tournaments to their name at the end of the season? The Mallorcan is currently leading the debates with 22 titles, when his one-year-oldest has 21.
Presented as being at the end of his career and despite physical problems – the Spaniard suffers from a degenerative foot disease – Rafael Nadal achieved the Australian Open – Roland-Garros double in 2022. However, he aims to increase his lead over Novak Djokovic in the race for the title of the greatest tennis player of all time. “I don’t think this will be my last time here. I am happy doing what I do. I would like to continue doing it”the Spaniard said on Wednesday, brushing aside the idea of a final appearance at the Australian Open (January 16-29, 2023).
As for the Serbian, he is the most anticipated player of the season. And for good reason, the year 2022 was most singular, with an expulsion from Australia – because of his non-vaccination against Covid-19 – preventing him from defending his title in Melbourne, his absence from the US Open for the same reasons and a victory at the Wimbledon tournament without awarding ATP points because of the war in Ukraine.
At 35, the one who fell back to 5e world rank wants to make up for lost time and intends to recover its place of number 1. The Australian Open is the perfect opportunity for “Nole” to clinch a 22e coronation and to return to the race for the “GOAT” (for ” greatest of all time “).
Carlos Alcaraz, a status to defend
Expected as a future great in world tennis, Carlos Alcaraz did not disappoint. After achieving his first Grand Slam success at the US Open 2022, the Spaniard became, at 19, the youngest world number 1 since the creation of the ATP rankings in 1973. After his crazy year 2022, he begins a new season with a status, that of favorite, which he will have to assume. “I will no longer be the guy who goes up the rankings. I’m already there, so everything will change and I will have to have another approach mentally.he told an Emirati daily in December.
Carlos Alcaraz will have to redouble his efforts to stay at the top, especially against a vengeful Novak Djokovic and a Rafael Nadal who has not yet asserted his retirement rights.
The prince of world tennis will also have to be wary of the new “next gen”. Crowned respectively in Antwerp, Naples and Bercy last season, the Canadian Félix Auger-Aliassime, the Italian Lorenzo Musetti and the Dane Holger Rune are, in the wake of the Spanish prodigy, the new faces of a talented generation. These new young wolves are not far from ringardiser the generation of Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and other Matteo Berrettini. Long tipped to succeed the hegemony of the “Big Three” – Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, newly retired – the former “next gen” should certainly be proud if she does not want to be left behind.
Caroline Garcia, the blue locomotive?
Will the year which begins see the coronation at the top of a tricolor player? The question may seem incongruous, but carried by Alizé Cornet and especially Caroline Garcia, the French have found their colors in Grand Slam, even if the next generation is still slow to point the tip of its nose. The progress of young people Corentin Moutet (51e) and Luca Van Assche, who won his first Challenger title (second division of professional tennis) in Portugal, are worth noting. The first Frenchman in the ATP ranking is Arthur Rinderknech, who is 44e rank.
All this is very meager in view of the years, finally quite auspicious, of the four musketeers who are now aging, two of whom – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gilles Simon – put away their rackets this year.
Author of a superb end to the season with a victory at the Masters, Caroline Garcia is ultimately the only one likely to restore the French coat of arms. Now 4e worldwide, the Lyonnaise does not hide her ambitions. “The dream is always to win a Grand Slam tournament. There are still steps to climb, but now it is possible”she confided before the start of the United Cup, a new competition by mixed teams which brings together eighteen selections in Australia until January 8.
Every day new crossword puzzles, Sudoku and found words.
With only 395 points to defend until the next Roland-Garros, the Rhodanian can even, from the first half, improve her ranking and become the runner-up to Iga Swiatek, the current queen of tennis. Behind Caroline Garcia, Alizé Cornet, who emerges at 36e place in the WTA rankings, is the other French representative in the top 100.
Iga Swiatek, a domination to sit
The Pole went through last season on a cloud winning eight titles, including two Grand Slams (Roland-Garros, US Open). She has flown over women’s tennis in proportions not seen since Serena Williams in 2015. Can the 21-year-old player sustainably dominate her sport? By her own admission, she finished the year mentally and physically exhausted.
However, no player seems able to thwart his reign. From the British Emma Raducanu to the Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka or the American Cori Gauff, none manages to keep up with the infernal pace of Iga Swiatek. Only his runner-up in the standings, Ons Jabeur, was able to pull out of the game last season.
The first player from the Arab world to win a WTA 1000 tournament in Madrid, the Tunisian reached an important milestone by reaching the final of the Wimbledon and US Open tournaments. Will she achieve her Grand Slam dream? Iga Swiatek will surely be in his way to stop him. Unless Caroline Garcia also comes to play spoilsport.