Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Holger Rune feature in our 2023 predictions

Rune, Nadal and Djokovic Credit: Alamy
Rune, Nadal and Djokovic Credit: Alamy

A new tennis year is underway and we are holding our breath in anticipation of what comes next.

After 2022 started with Novak Djokovic’s deportation from Australia amid a Covid vaccine scandal, the tennis year continued to throw up controversy as Russian and Belarusian players were banned from Wimbledon last summer.

By then, former world No 1 Ashleigh Barty had announced her shock retirement from the sport and then in September, we all collectively heaped as Roger Federer played his emotional final match.

Can 2023 match that? Here are five predictions of what to expect on the men’s tour:

NOVAK DJOKOVIC TO DOMINATE

Novak Djokovic has arrived in Australia with his eyes on a tenth title at the Australian Open – and that might just be the start of the super Serb.

At his best, there is no doubt that 35-year-old Djokovic is the best player in the world and if he gets a chance to play enough matches, he should reclaim the world No 1 spot.

Djokovic will be hard to beat in Melbourne and he is a strong favourite to win Wimbledon again, but the biggest obstacle to his ambitions may be the trouble he is set to have trying to get into America to play the ATP Masters events and the US Open as Covid vaccination is still required to enter the country.

VERDICT: Djokovic to overtake Rafael Nadal by winning at least two Grand Slam titles in 2023.

HOLGER RUNE TO CRACK THE TOP FIVE

Denmark’s Holger Rune exceeded all expectations as he broke into the top ten of the ATP rankings with a win at the Paris Masters in November.

Dealing with inflated expectations will be part of his story in 2023, but there is every reason to believe this stunning talent will handle that pressure.

With weapons in so many areas of his game, Rune proved in his run to the Paris title that he can get over the winning line against the very best.

He is still a work in progress, but his raw talent is so exciting.

VERDICT: Rune to stay in the top 10 of the ATP rankings throughout this year.

RAFAEL NADAL AND ANDY MURRAY TO RETIRE?

This year could mark the end of two stunning tennis stories.

Both Nadal and Murray have given hints that they will call time on their careers are rapidly edging toward a conclusion and those moments could come in 2023.

Nadal’s ongoing foot problem will eventually bring down the curtain on his historic career and it would be fitting if his final match is played on Court Philippe Chatrier at the French Open.
Ideally, Murray’s farewell will come at Wimbledon, but he has admitted he is one injury away from the end of his story.

The Scot may also decide to call time on his career if he fails to make breakthroughs in the top events in the opening half of this year.

VERDICT: Both could retire in 2023, but Murray may be the more likely to end his story.

NETFLIX CREATING NEW STARS

Break Point on Netflix Credit: Alamy
Break Point on Netflix

Tennis is waiting patiently to see what impact the Netflix series Break Point will have on the sport when it airs on January 13th.

The behind-the-scenes series has the potential to take tennis to a whole new audience and make the likes of Nick Kyrgios, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Matteo Berrettini into stars away from the court.

This format has given a boost to the big names in Formula 1 and tennis could do with a similar lift at a time when some of the game’s biggest names are fading in influence at the top of the game.

VERDICT: This can only be good news for tennis as we need to know more about players off the court.

JACK DRAPER’S BREAKTHROUGH

There are plenty of young stars threatening to break through at the top of the man’s game and Jack Draper could be the best of the crop alongside Holger Rune.

This young Brit has the firepower in all areas of his game to trouble the biggest names in the sport and he has also shown that he can sustain his brilliance over an extended period.

Adding consistency to his potential is the next step for Draper, but he is built for success and with a bulked-up frame that harnesses his explosive talents on the court.

VERDICT: Draper to threaten the top 10 in 2023.

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