Australian Open 2023: Six storylines to look out for down under
• 5 MINUTE READ
With the start of the Australian Open just around the corner, we delve into six storylines to look out for ahead of the first grand slam of 2023.
Will Djokovic match Nadal’s record of 22 Grand Slam titles?
Having missed the 2022 Australian Open, Novak Djokovic will be making his return to Melbourne eager to regain his hold on the trophy. Since winning his first Australian Open trophy in 2008, the Serbian has won the title an additional eight times and has only lost three matches at Melbourne Park since 2011.
More significantly, the attention will be drawn to whether Djokovic can match the record for the most amount of grand slams won, which currently rests with world No.2 Nadal at 22 titles. With Djokovic clinching the trophy at the Adelaide International 1 at the beginning of the month and the chance to regain the world No.1 ranking, it’s safe to say the title odds may be in his favour.
Can Cam Norrie continue his winning form in Australia?
Cam Norrie has already been making waves in Australia as the British No.1 seeks to continue his winning ways down under in pursuit of his first Grand Slam title.
Norrie began his 2023 campaign representing Great Britain at the inaugural United Cup. Here, the Brit strung together three dominating performances in his singles rubbers against Australia’s Alex de Minaur, world No.9 Taylor Fritz and most notably, a comeback win against Rafael Nadal in what was the biggest win of his career so far.
From Sydney to his hometown, Auckland, Norrie has continued to maintain a high level of consistency that has seen him reach the final of the ASB Classic.
Emma Raducanu and Harriet Dart lead the British charge in the women’s draw
Despite picking up a last-minute injury at the ASB Classic, Emma Raducanu is set headline the British women’s line-up at this year’s Australian Open. The British No.1 will be hoping to get her 2023 season in full swing with a lengthy run in the tournament, as she faces a first round battle against Germany’s Tamara Korpatsch. Should she progress, Raducanu could face a highly anticipated second round meeting against fellow teen-success Coco Gauff.
Harriet Dart is the only other British representative in the women's singles. This will be the world No.96’s first appearance in the Australian Open main draw after the 26-year-old broke into the WTA Top 100 at the end of last year. With wins over Paula Badosa and Ajla Tomljanovic at the Billie Jean King Cup, Dart could be one to rock the boat.
Jack Draper faces the toughest match of his career so far
At just 21-years-old, Jack Draper’s rise to the ATP top 50 has not gone under the radar. Having embarked on a breakthrough year in 2022, the Brit now faces the reality of playing at the highest-level and what better way to show that you belong at the top than with a match-up against reigning champion and top seed Nadal at the 2023 Australian Open.
Draper will enter the first grand slam of the year off the back of a stellar performance at the Adelaide 2 where he reached the semi-final. Meanwhile Nadal has had a turbulent start to the season, picking up two wins in his last six matches – could there be an historic upset on the cards?
Who can challenge Swiatek for the title?
Iga Swiatek was the dominant force on the WTA tour last year, having stepped up to the world No.1 spot following the retirement of Ash Bartey. Having picked up eight titles in 2022 – including two Grand Slams – the signs remain that Swiatek will continue where she left off.
However, world No.2 Ons Jabeur will be determined to build on her series of near misses from last year to clinch her first Grand Slam title. The Tunisian made history when she became the first Arab player to reach a grand slam final at Wimbledon, but lost out on the title to Elena Rybakina, before being defeated in New York by Swiatek.
Fresh off the back of winning her third WTA title at the ASB Classic event in Auckland, America’s Gauff has emerged as a likely contender to go far this tournament. The 18-year-old missed out on her first grand slam title when she finished runner-up to Swiatek at Roland Garros last year and will be feeling motivated to go one step further in Melbourne.
British doubles stars tipped for success down under
A strong British contingent are heading down under to compete for the doubles’ titles at the 2023 Australian Open. The doubles draw will see nine Brits across the ATP and WTA tour competing in the event, with world No.1 Neal Skupski and three-time Grand Slam champion Joe Salisbury leading the charge on the men’s side with their respective partners. Doubles world No.12 Lloyd Glasspool heads into the event with one ATP trophy already under his belt this year after picking up the Adelaide International 1 title alongside Harri Heliovaara earlier this month and will be determined to cause an upset in the doubles draw.
In the women’s draw, Billie Jean King Cup stars Alicia Barnett and Olivia Nicholls are set to make their Australian Open debut after embarking on a breakthrough season last year, while Heather Watson will be teaming up with American Danielle Collins.
In the wheelchair draw, doubles players Alfie Hewett, Gordon Reid and Andy Lapthorne will all be aiming to retain their wheelchair doubles titles in Melbourne. Hewett and Reid picked up their third consecutive Australian Open doubles title in 2022, while Lapthorne teamed up with American David Wagner last year to claim his sixth quad doubles title down under.