The 2023 edition of the Australian Open, first Grand Slam of the year, is scheduled to be held from January 16 to 29 in Melbourne.
Here’s all you need to know about the this year’s tournament:
Storylines to follow
The biggest storyline of this year’s Australian Open is the return of nine-time champion Novak Djokovic. Former World No. 1 Djokovic was deported in controversial circumstances on the eve of last year’s tournament after his unvaccinated COVID-19 status. However, with Australia no longer requiring visitors to be vaccinated, Djokovic’s three-year entry ban was overturned, and the visa was granted. The Serbian can become the second man ever in the Open Era to win a single Major at least 10 times. A title-winning run would also mean Djokovic tying Rafael Nadal’s all-time men’s record of winning most Majors (22).
Swiatek favourite to win women’s title
Ash Barty’s title-winning run in 2022 ended Australia’s 44-year-old for a home champion in singles. However, two months later, Barty announced her retirement from the sport. Shortly after Barty said goodbye to the sport, Poland’s Iga Swiatek became World No. 1 and dominated the rest of the season. The 21-year-old Swiatek enters this year’s tournament as the favourite for the title.
This year’s Australian Open will have quite a few teenagers competing in the main draw. On the women’s side, as many as five teenagers qualified for the main draw, with the youngest of them being 15-year-old Brenda Fruhvirtova from the Czech Republic. Brenda’s elder sister Linda, 17, already had direct entry into the main draw. In the men’s singles, Shang Juncheng, a 17-year-old from China, qualified for the main draw, joining his older compatriots Wu Yibing and Zhang Zhizhen.
Some big names missing
The 2023 Australian Open has a list of noticeable absentees with the most prominent being men’s World No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz. The Spanish teenager, who took the tennis world by storm last year, is out of the first Slam this year after hurting himself “through a chance, unnatural movement in training.” Marin Cilic, 2018 finalist, is also out due to a knee injury.
On the women’s side, two-time champion Naomi Osaka, Paula Badosa, Ajla Tomljanovic, Venus Williams and Simona Halep are set to miss this year’s tournament. Osaka recently announced that she is pregnant and plans to return to tennis at the 2024 Australian Open. Halep is serving a provisional doping ban. The other three players are out due to injury.
First Slam after Federer’s retirement
The 2023 Australian Open is the first Major after the retirement of 20-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer, who played his farewell match at the 2022 Laver Cup. Some other established names are about to say goodbye to the sport. Sam Stosur, the 38-year-old Australian, who ahead of last year’s Australian Open, said that she would focus only on doubles, recently announced her decision to retire on Instagram after playing her home Slam. Indian tennis legend Sania Mirza will retire after the WTA1000 event in Dubai next month, and therefore, the 2023 Australian Open will be the final Grand Slam of her career.
What happened last year
Barty became the first Australian in 44 years to win a singles trophy at the nation’s Grand Slam tournament by beating Danielle Collins 6-3, 7-6 (2) in the final. That gave Barty the third major title of her career — after the French Open in 2019 and Wimbledon in 2021.
Nadal earned his 21st Grand Slam trophy via an epic comeback to beat Daniil Medvedev 2-6, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5. It was the first time in 57 years that a man won an Australian Open final after dropping the first two sets.
Top seed and defending champion Nadal has received a tough draw with his first-round opponent being Great Britain’s Jack Draper. Nadal could face USA’s Frances Tiafoe in the fourth round, having lost to the 24-year-old at the same stage in last year’s US Open. His potential quarterfinal opponent could be Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in a repeat of last year’s final. Djokovic will be up against Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain in the first round.
Top seed and World No. 1 Iga Swiatek faces a tricky first-round opponent in Germany’s Jule Niemeier, 2022 Wimbledon quarterfinalist. Three-time Grand Slam champion Swiatek could face seventh-seeded American Coco Gauff in the quarterfinals in a potential rematch of the 2022 French Open final.
The Australian Open is the first Grand Slam to offer equal prize money to both the men’s and women’s winners. The total prize money for the 2023 edition is 76.5 million Australian dollars (about $53 million). The women’s and men’s singles champions will each be paid 2.975 million Australian dollars (about $2 million), a drop of 37.5% from last year’s cheques of 4.4 million Australian dollars (about $3.15 million).
Where to watch
In India, viewers will be able to watch the live telecast of the Australian Open on the Sony Sports Network and stream the matches live on the SonyLiv app.
The men’s singles championship trophy is called the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup, named after Australian tennis great Sir Norman Everard Brookes. He won three Grand Slam titles in his career: Wimbledon in 1907 and 1914 and the 1911 Australasian Championships. He was also a part of the nation’s Davis Cup team that emerged victorious on six occasions. Post-retirement, Brookes went on to become the president of the LTAA.
The women’s singles championship trophy is called the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup, named after the winner in 1925-26 and 1928-30. Akhurst was inducted into the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame on Australia Day (26 January) in 2006. She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2013.
Most successful players at the Australian Open:
- ⦿ Novak Djokovic: 9 titles (2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019, 2020, 2021)
- ⦿ Roger Federer: 6 titles (2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2017, 2018)
- ⦿ Roy Emerson: 6 titles (1961, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967)
- ⦿ Andre Agassi: 4 titles (1995, 2000, 2001, 2003)
- ⦿ Ken Rosewall: 4 titles (1953, 1955, 1971, 1972)
- ⦿ Jack Crawford: 4 titles (1931, 1932, 1933, 1935)
- ⦿ Margaret Court: 11 titles (1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1973)
- ⦿ Serena Williams: 7 titles (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2017)
- ⦿ Nancye Wynne Bolton: 6 titles ( 1937, 1940, 1946, 1947,1948, 1951)
- ⦿ Daphne Akhurst: 5 titles (1925, 1926, 1928, 1929, 1930)
- ⦿ Monica Seles: 4 titles (1991, 1992, 1993, 1996)
- ⦿ Steffi Graf: 4 titles (1988, 1989, 1990, 1994)