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Ten fearless predictions for 2023

  • Dan Imhoff

With the first major of the year in the rear-view mirror, we peer into the crystal ball to see what could unfold for remainder of the season.

Djokovic to pass Nadal with 23rd major

Departing Melbourne with a 10th Australian Open trophy, Novak Djokovic has shifted the goal posts again.

After reeling in Rafael Nadal a second time with his record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam trophy, the pair will head to Paris eager to claim sole bragging rights.

MORE: Number 10 for Novak sees Djokovic join Nadal

While last year's No.1 Carlos Alcaraz is most likely to prove Djokovic's toughest obstacle in 2023, at full fitness – even if ineligible for this year's US Open – Djokovic will likely close out 2023 in top spot for the eighth time with at least one further major title in Paris or London.

Swiatek to defend a Grand Slam title for the first time

Runaway world No.1 Iga Swiatek conceded the pressure of wanting to add the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup to her Grand Slam collection took a toll after she succumbed to Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina in the fourth round.

While a fear of failure became tough to juggle, the 21-year-old was ultimately outplayed by the heavy-striking Kazakh.

MORE: Swiatek takes learnings from Rybakina loss

Inroads will be made to stem more of the same against big hitters in future but on the European clay, where her game is arguably at its best, Swiatek will be a strong favourite to defend a major for the first time in Paris.

Korda to secure top-16 seed for Wimbledon

While compatriot Tommy Paul pushed deeper in Melbourne, 22-year-old Sebastian Korda's quarterfinal run past two-time runner-up Daniil Medvedev and 10th seed Hubert Hurkacz turned more heads.

Before his defeat to Djokovic in the Adelaide final, the American joked he had the lowest career-best mark of his athletically-gifted family.

That was no longer the case after he passed his mother Regina Rajchrtova's highest ranking as the new world No.25. 

With few points to defend until after Wimbledon, Korda will likely make up huge ground in the coming six months, provided he overcomes his wrist injury, and should be seeded to reach the second week at SW19.

Nadal to stave off retirement rumours beyond Roland Garros

An untimely hip injury cost Rafael Nadal a shot at defending his Australian Open title as he limped out in the second round to Mackenzie McDonald.

The 36-year-old would not be drawn on whether this was his swansong appearance on Rod Laver Arena, but it left many to ponder just how much he had left in the tank – mentally and physically – after his second major in a year was derailed due to his body breaking down.

MORE: Nadal defiant in AO 2023 defeat

With time on his side to rest and recuperate ahead of the clay-court swing, it would be no surprise to see a fully fit Nadal dismiss Roland Garros retirement rumours and target further major runs in the second half of 2023.

Rybakina to reach third major final

The sky appears to be the limit for the tremendously-gifted Elena Rybakina in 2023. After falling short in a classic women's final to Aryna Sabalenka at Melbourne Park, she declared her goal was to reach the second week of all the majors with more finals an expectation.

Two Grand Slam finals from her past three made it difficult to argue against the Kazakh, who on Monday claimed her rightful place in the top 10.

MORE: Rybakina finds positives from defeat

As her Wimbledon triumph from last year did not earn any points, Rybakina has only a third-round showing at Roland Garros to defend from the remaining three majors in 2023 and will likely secure a top-eight seeding to aid her cause well ahead of her Paris return.

Tsitsipas to find greater consistency at the Slams

Defeat from two sets up in his first major final against Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros two years ago hit Stefanos Tsitsipas hard, as he failed to pass the third round at a major again that season.

MORE: Tsitsipas looks to the future despite loss

Before his impressive dash to the Australian Open final on Sunday, he had only passed the fourth round once in his past six Slams.

While elbow surgery dented part of last season, he had not competed on the biggest stages with the same confidence or conviction of early 2021. Expect fewer fluctuations in Tsitsipas' major results in 2023.

Sinner to reach first major semifinal

The pain of a third straight five-set defeat at a major will sting for some time after Jannik Sinner came up short to Tsitsipas in the fourth round at Melbourne Park, but the 21-year-old has ample cause to leave with his head held high.

Ranked in the top 10 only four months ago, a knee injury that persisted into the clay-court swing cost him a shot at reaching four straight major quarterfinals last season.

MORE: Tsitsipas stands up to slip past Sinner

With Darren Cahill in his camp, the Italian came up narrowly shy against eventual champions Djokovic and Alcaraz in the last eight at Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows respectively.

While still a work in progress, a Grand Slam semifinal or better beckons in 2023.

Lindas rising: Czech teens to crack top 40

Linda Fruhvirtova and Linda Noskova present a bold new future for Czech women's tennis. While the Eastern European nation's long-time flagbearers Petra Kvitova and Karolina Pliskova remain the highest-ranked of their countrywomen, both are now in their 30s and eyes have shifted to future successors.

Teenagers Fruhvirtova and Noskova both presented compelling cases Down Under and were well placed to make their respective top-40 debuts this year.

The 17-year-old Fruhvirtova reached the fourth round at a major for the first time at Melbourne Park to depart on the cusp of the top 50, while 18-year-old Noskova also entered the top 60 as a result of her run past two top-10 opponents and Australian Open semifinalist Victoria Azarenka en route to her first tour final in Adelaide.

Shelton to shine at SW19

Twenty-year-old American Ben Shelton had not stepped foot in a time zone more than three hours away from home, let alone outside the US before his first trip Down Under this year.

After just his second Grand Slam main draw appearance, he will be stamping that passport with greater frequency in 2023.

MORE: Paul makes maiden Slam semi by stopping Shelton

A dash to his maiden Grand Slam quarterfinal, where he fell to Paul, more than halved his ranking to a career-high mark of world No.43.

With his huge lefty serve and adept net-rushing, a second-week showing in his Wimbledon debut would not come as quite the surprise.

Zheng to reach maiden Grand Slam quarterfinal

China's best prospect since two-time major champion Li Na, Quinwen Zheng announced herself with a run to the fourth round in Paris last year, when she defeated former champion Simona Halep and took a set off eventual champion Swiatek.


A surprise early exit to Bernada Perra in her second Australian Open will only fuel her push at the subsequent three majors, where she stands a realistic shot at passing the fourth round for the first time.

After saving match points against Anett Kontaveit in Adelaide, Zheng revealed her mission to end the season in the top 10.