What To Expect in 2023: ATP Version
Every year at Wimbledon, there is no play on the 7th day of the tournament, known as middle Sunday. On this day, after 6 days of non-stop action, most tennis fans find themselves at a loose end, and have no idea exactly what to do with themselves. Well, imagine that, but for a whole month. That describes December, a whole month of off season, with no tennis being played, aside from the odd exhibition.
Boring, isn’t it? So you may be wondering what I’m even going to write about. The answer is that I now want to look towards next year, when the tennis starts again. Although it may not seem like it now, the Australian Open is 2 months away, and that time will fly by. But what can we expect to happen over the next 12 months? Who will be challenging for the biggest titles? This time last year, Carlos Alcaraz, the current world number one, was down at 32 in the rankings and few would have expected him to win his first Grand Slam and become World Number One. So it will be difficult to predict what will happen, but I’m about to try.
Year-End Number One
This prediction is particularly challenging. If you follow last year’s pattern and predict that the Number 32 ranked player will achieve this feat, you would be predicting that Tommy Paul will be World Number One in 12 months’ time. Paul is a good player, but will not be World Number One, probably not ever. The safest prediction is to back Novak Djokovic, who looks in great shape going into 2023 and will not be limited in what tournaments he can play, like in 2022. Carlos Alcaraz will have something to say about that, as could Felix Auger-Aliassime, but I would put my money on Djokovic, if I were a betting man.
Best British Hope
If you’ve read my writing before, I think you’ll probably know the answer to this one already. It’s not the British Number One Cameron Norrie, or even Dan Evans, the British Number Two. It’s Jack Draper. Draper stormed from 265 to 42 in the rankings in 11 months, completing his transition to the main ATP Tour from the Challenger circuit, and making waves with some excellent results, most notably with a straight sets win over Stefanos Tsitsipas in Toronto. Crucially, Draper will gain direct entry into all Grand Slams with his ranking now, and still has a lot of points to gain early in the year. Draper’s all-round game has come on leaps and bounds in 2022, and the sky really is the limit for Draper.
Breakthrough of the Year
I will admit, I’m cheating with this one a bit, as this player has arguably already had his breakthrough. But Felix Auger-Aliassime has yet to hit his true potential at the age of 22. He is currently at a career-high of 6 but has in recent months shown just how strong he has become. Gone are the days where he could be accused of not having the mentality to win big matches, winning his first 4 titles in 2022, as well as helping Canada to ATP Cup and Davis Cup titles. Under the tutelage of Toni Nadal, Auger-Aliassime has improved both technically and mentally, which was showcased best in his stunning performance against Novak Djokovic at the Laver Cup, which proved key to Team World’s eventual victory. I
believe Auger Aliassime will be, at the vey least, Top 3 by the end of 2023, possibly higher if Toni Nadal can help him master the slower surfaces.
Ones to Watch
This prediction is not me betting on who will dominate the tour, rather who is likely to post some strong results this coming year. I’ve not mentioned Rafa Nadal up to this point, but he is almost certain to win another Roland Garros next year, but simply may not play consistently enough to be competing for World Number One. Nick Kyrgios has hinted at playing a fuller schedule this year, and with Wimbledon points actually counting this time around, Kyrgios may finally break the Top 10. I can see Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe, Jannik Sinner and Alexander Zverev all having a good year as well.
Avert Your Eyes
We’ve looked at those likely to succeed, but what about the opposite? Who looks likely to disappoint? It pains me to say it, but I think Cameron Norrie’s time near the top could be coming to an end. Norrie is a highly consistent performer and has a knack for making his opponents play below their true level, but top players are beginning to suss him out. Norrie claimed just 3 Top 10 wins in 2022 and has an overall record of 6 wins and 26 losses against Top 10 opponents.
Diego Schwartzman and Grigor Dimitrov are 3 players whose rankings could drop significantly, with poor results beginning to become the rule rather than the exception. Established top players like Fabio Fognini, John Isner and Roberto Bautista-Agut all saw their rankings take a hit in 2022, and this looks likely to continue into 2023.
Grand Slam Winners
To finish, I’m going to attempt to predict the winner of each Grand Slam in 2023, and also 2 players who I think may perform well.
Australian Open winner: Novak Djokovic
Watch out for: Carlos Alcaraz, Rafa Nadal, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Nick Kyrgios
French Open winner: Rafa Nadal
Watch out for: Casper Ruud, Holger Rune, Novak Djokovic
Wimbledon winner: Novak Djokovic
Watch out for: Nick Kyrgios, Matteo Berrettini, Jack Draper
US Open winner: Felix Auger-Aliassime
Watch out for: Daniil Medvedev, Nick Kyrgios, Carlos Alacaraz, Rafa Nadal
Written by Emre Saridogan