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Insight, optimism and good vibes: Inside media day at AO 2024

  • Vivienne Christie

There’s a tantalising sense of new possibilities as a new Grand Slam season begins at the Australian Open each summer. So the mood was overwhelmingly positive as the world’s top players addressed the press ahead of their 2024 campaigns. 

Bringing bright smiles, positive outlooks and some gems of wisdom, here’s what some of the AO’s star competitors had to say.

“It’s no secret that I verbalise my goals and I say clearly that I want to win every Slam that I participate and play in. It's no different this year. I'm just hoping I can start the season in a way that I have been starting my seasons, most of my seasons, throughout my career: with a win here in Australia, in Melbourne. My favourite place, no doubt. The court where I've done great things and achieved my greatest Grand Slam results.” 
Winning never gets old for 10-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic, who first triumphed in Melbourne at age 20 in 2008.

“I feel really great. I had an incredible season last year, improved a lot as a player and as a person. I did really a great pre-season. We worked a lot. I felt like we improved a lot … (I) feel like I'm ready to go.” 
The vibes are all positive as Aryna Sabalenka prepares to defend her AO 2023 title.

“I love the comfort of it. I guess just going into the locker room and having the same locker as before. I think little things like that really make me happy. Just being able to hit on Rod Laver, I guess look up at the sky and kind of just realise, like, I've been able to win twice here. I would love to do it again.” 
Two-time champion Australian Open women’s champion Naomi Osaka, who became a mother to baby daughter Shai last July, has returned to a happy place at Melbourne Park.

Osaka is happy to be back at the site of her 2019 and 2021 successes

“It’s an extra motivation for me. I’m an ambitious guy. I always want to play against the best players in the world to see what is my level. Obviously it's a good test, playing against him in the places or in the tournament that he's almost unbeaten.” 
Carlos Alcaraz has his sights set on ending Novak Djokovic’s stunning Australian Open record.

“I remember last year I was kind of analysing what I can do throughout the whole year. I mean, I got tired just thinking about it. This year I'm just thinking about until the end of Australian Open, then I'm going to think about my next goals.” 
World No.1 Iga Swiatek has streamlined her focus to a successful Melbourne Park campaign.

“I think the thing I learned (is that the) future is bright no matter what. I remember last year sitting in a press conference room. Was a tough feeling after the loss. I think dropping out of top 10, stuff like this. Then was probably one of the best parts of my career." 
Daniil Medvedev, who returned to world No.3 in 2023, on the lessons of his second-round exit to Sebastian Korda at AO 2023.

MORE: AO 2024 men's singles draw

“There's a lot of young players. Some players were probably born the year I turned pro. I don't know. We're probably not far off. I definitely feel young on the inside, but I realise I'm no longer in my 20s. In tennis, I'm in the older generation.” 
Caroline Wozniacki, 33, on the realisation that she and Angelique Kerber (who’ll turn 36 during AO 2024) are now competing in a new era of the sport.

MORE: Wozniacki returns, ready to challenge the young guard

“It’s so nice to see her back, as well. We are in the same stage, to be honest. Of course, there are completely different things now we are talking about … when you're looking back 10 years ago, where we are now, it's a lot of change in the last 10 years.”
Angelique Kerber is delighted to return to the sport at the same time as her close friend, and fellow mother, Wozniacki.

Angelique Kerber trains for AO 2024
The returning Kerber is one of just two women in the main draw to have triumphed at three of the four majors

“I won't be out there giggling on the court. That won't be happening …  I don't see Novak out there when he's playing his matches laughing and joking around. I never saw that with Roger and Rafa. It's not about that. It's probably how you're treating yourself in those moments and being a bit kinder to yourself, the people around you, lowering some of your own expectations, controlling what you can control.”
Five-time Australian Open finalist Andy Murray – ironically smiling – on the process to rediscover his pleasure to compete.

“It really feels like so long ago … I think for me the only thing I will try to remember from that Slam is just the way that I won. It wasn't my best tennis. It was more so the mental fire. I had some gutty matches. I think that confidence will bring me into Australian Open this year, probably even more Slams for the rest of the season.” 
Coco Gauff aims to reignite the fire that propelled her to Grand Slam heights at US Open 2023.

MORE: Gauff sets out ambitions for "double-digit" Slam count

“I'm a person that's not easily distracted. When it comes to all these things, it doesn't really change too much for me. I mean, my goals are plain and simple, and that's to win tennis matches … All the preparations, they all stay the same. My focus stays the same. I still have that drive and motivation to go out there on the tennis court and do my best.” 
Alex de Minaur refuses to be distracted by the attention accompanying his status as the newest member of the world’s top 10.

“It just puts things into perspective. The feeling of not being able to move your body, like to walk to the kitchen to get a snack, for example, I couldn't do it. And you miss it. You don't really realise until you go through it yourself, no matter how many different athletes say, ‘Be grateful, appreciate being healthy’. I feel until you actually experience it yourself, it's different.”
After injuries on both wrists and her ankle mid-2023, Emma Raducanu returns to Grand Slam tennis with renewed perspective.

MORE: AO 2024 women's singles draw

“Mindset is a key point in our sport. It gives you a good feeling when you lose so many times and then you win finally, because it shows also the progress you're making as a player.”
Jannik Sinner shows the philosophy that’s helped his rise to world No.4 at age 22.