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Say what? The best quotes of AO 2023

  • Ravi Ubha

The eyes of the world were drawn to the action at the Australian Open 2023 over two glorious weeks. 

When the play on court is done, the players aren't, though. 

They chat to the world's press – often producing memorable soundbites for one reason for another. 

Here are our picks of some of the best quotes of AO 23. 

Rublev's lucky escape 

If you like forehand return net-cord winners to end fifth-set tiebreaks, then this Australian Open was for you. 

After Andy Murray hit one against Matteo Berrettini, Andrey Rublev did it against Holger Rune in the fourth round. 

The score in the tiebreak, 10-9 to the fifth seed, made it even more dramatic. 

"It's the luckiest probably moment of my life," said Rublev. "Now I can go casino. If I put (money), for sure I going to win."

Unluckily for Rublev, he met Novak Djokovic in the next round and lost in straight sets

Medvedev's philosophy 

Speaking of Djokovic – and we often refer to him in Australia given his enormous success – Rublev's pal Daniil Medvedev was asked in the first week if he took note of what the Serb was doing on the other side of the draw.

Medvedev's focus? Himself, and with good reason (Getty Images)

"No, for sure the most important is to focus on yourself because, well, that's the only way how you can win, you know? Novak can lose. Rafa (Nadal) can lose. Stefanos (Tsitsipas) can lose. But if you lose, too, it doesn't matter that they lose," he laughed. 

And how right he is. 

The twice Australian Open finalist's tournament ended sooner than many expected, in the third round at the hands of Sebastian Korda

Iga's explainer 

Iga Swiatek dominated most of last season on the women's tour, bagging two majors and compiling a 37-match winning streak. 

But like Medvedev, her stay at Melbourne Park didn't last as long as anticipated. It took, however, Elena Rybakina and her Grand Slam-winning game to beat her.  

Swiatek said she learned from her earlier than anticipated exit (Getty Images)

Mulling a reason or two for her exit, Swiatek said: "I felt like I took a step back in terms of how I approach these tournaments, and I maybe wanted it a little bit too hard. So I'm going to try to chill out a little bit more. That's all."

Poland did have a singles semifinalist in surprise artist Magda Linette

Pegula's doubles tonic

Rublev and Jessica Pegula keep getting close to reaching a maiden semifinal at a Grand Slam, but taking that next step has proven difficult. 

After her loss to Victoria Azarenka in the last eight, the American was glad she had the doubles alongside Coco Gauff to turn to. 

"I think it actually helps that I'm playing doubles tomorrow because I don't have so much time to sulk around and kind of be in my feelings," said Pegula. 

Pegula and Gauff, though, were later upset in the semifinals by Ena Shibahara and Shuko Aoyama of Japan. 

That Rafa perspective 

Swiatek's idol and last year's men's champion, Rafael Nadal, never lacks in perspective. 

He noted the distinction between life and tennis after his second-round reverse against Mackenzie McDonald

When you've won 22 majors, a second-round loss is easy to put into perspective ... (Getty Images)

"In the end, I can't complain about my life at all," Nadal, hindered by a hip injury, said. "Just in terms of sports and in terms of injuries and tough moments, that's another (thing). Just can't say that I am not destroyed mentally at this time, because I will be lying."

Nadal will be sidelined for about five to seven more weeks with the injury. 

Tiafoe's teen take

Frances Tiafoe is a smiler, one of tennis' great entertainers. 

He participated in one of AO 23's most eventful tiebreaks, losing it to eventual semifinalist Karen Khachanov after leading 6-1. 

Tiafoe overcame qualifier Shang Juncheng in the second round, before singing the 17-year-old's praises. 

Tiafoe was typically expressive on-court, and effusive in his praise off it (Getty Images)

"That dude is special. He is going to be a problem for a long time," said Tiafoe. 

"He is 17 playing like that, hitting the ball like that, moving like that. Whew, the boy is a problem. That boy is going to be mean."

Yes indeed, they were compliments. 

Murray's memories 

Andy Murray's win over Berrettini was something to behold. 

But then the Scot went out and downed Thanasi Kokkinakis in five hours, 45 minutes in a match that ended at 4am local time. 

His journey ended in the third round, but not before the 35-year-old – who underwent hip resurfacing in 2019 – got more love from the locals. 

"I think Aussie sports fans in general, yeah, love it when the athletes that they're watching give 100 per cent, and I certainly did that the last few days. They responded to that and gave amazing support.

"I played in three amazing atmospheres. I'm very thankful to them for that. Great memories."

Honesty from Sabalenka 

Great memories, too, for women's champion Aryna Sabalenka.

Here's Sabalenka discussing her use of a biomechanic expert to help with her serve, which wavered last year but certainly didn't at AO 23. 

"I'm super happy that it's happened to me. I was, like, in that moment open for whatever. I was just like, ‘Please, someone help me to fix this (expletive) serve,'" she smiled. "I'm sorry for swearing, but this is how it was. This is the true feeling."

Cheers to a job well done, Aryna ... (Getty Images)

And how does the 24-year-old feel about winning her maiden major in a pulsating three-set final with Rybakina? 

"It's the best day of my life right now," beamed Sabalenka, and with good reason. 

Tsitsipas' enormous praise 

It didn't go Tsitsipas' way in the men's final on Sunday, but the Greek shouldn't feel too downtrodden. No one has so far gotten the better of Djokovic in an Australian Open semifinal or final. 

Disappointed as he was, Tsitsipas still found the time to shower Djokovic with praise. 

Tsitsipas had high praise for his conqueror after Sunday's final (Getty Images)

"Novak is a player that pushes you to your limits," he said.

"I don't see this as a curse. I don't see this as something, like, annoying. This is very good for the sport, to have competitors like him, to have champions like him.

"He's very important for us that want to get to his point one day. Getting our asses kicked is for sure a very good lesson every single time."

Djokovic's final word 

The last say should – has to – go to Djokovic. 

He was perhaps more emotional than ever before after winning a Grand Slam title, weeping as he lay on the ground in his player box surrounded by his team. 

The tears flowed for Djokovic after his 22nd major title victory (Getty Images)

The 35-year-old's return to the Australian Open ended in the way he hoped for – a record-extending 10th Australian Open men’s title and record-tying 22nd men's major. 

"It was a huge relief and release of the emotions in the end," said Djokovic. "Yeah, just difficult to find any additional words, really. It's been a long journey, but very special one."