2023 vision – What the new season could bring

2022 was a standout season, one that will live long in the memory, but what can this upcoming campaign serve up?

Trophée Roland-Garros 2022©Pauline Ballet / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

Across both the ATP and WTA there was a multitude of reasons to celebrate on the tennis scene last year.

Fresh faces shot to prominence, legends further entrenched their legacies, with the blend of styles and personalities producing a versatile, vibrant tour.

2022 was stunning, 2023 has a lot to live up to…

Pivotal stage in legendary leaderboard

They’ve faced each other 59 times in one of the most riveting rivalries across all sport.

Novak Djokovic might pip Rafael Nadal 30-29 in that engrossing head-to-head, however the Spaniard edges their Grand Slam haul at 22-21 in the men’s roll of honour.

Last season Nadal somehow defied the pain barrier and injuries to lift the Australian Open and a 14th Roland-Garros title. Despite a truncated campaign, a revitalised Djokovic claimed a seventh Wimbledon crown and reminded the Tour of his powers with ATP Finals glory in November.

Who can edge clear? The battle for supremacy couldn’t be more finely poised. All eyes on their Melbourne title tilt.

“I have no problem to verbalise that I have biggest goals, that I want to be the best, that I want to win every tournament,” declared Djokovic in Turin.

“I'm very hungry to prove that I'm still one of the best players in the world, that I can win big trophies. So see you in Australia.”

Swiatek to rubber-stamp greatness

You could pour over the records and statistics for hours. Iga Swiatek’s 2022 was one of the all-timers.

67-9 match record, 8 titles, including two majors at Roland-Garros and the US Open. The world No.1 was ruthless, compiling the longest winning streak this century (37) along the way.

The very best back it up with major moves year on year. Can the 21-year-old replicate such astonishing consistency?

The defence has become a real weapon, sliding into shots, sprinter style speed, Swiatek has the strokes to hit winners from all corners of the court. Could the second serve have more bite? Ok, that’s picky, it’s a pretty complete armoury.

The Pole describes herself as a “perfectionist” and the world No.1 seemingly won’t rest on her laurels. She’s built a Serena Williams style season, now Swiatek has the chance to step up to dominate Serena style.

Iga Swiatek / Finale US Open 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Alcaraz out to fend off the field

Forget the ‘Big Three’, Carlos Alcaraz was THE man on the ATP in 2022.

The Spaniard became the youngest ever world No.1 having rapidly transformed from a star of the future into a prize grabbing powerhouse.

The 19-year-old, for example, toppled Nadal and Djokovic in succession en route to Madrid Masters silverware, relishes the big occasion. The Murcia native isn’t deterred by anything, any scoreboard pressure and gets an extra boost by cajoling crowds into vehement support.

Coach and 2003 Roland-Garros champion Juan Carlos Ferrero knows exactly the emotions and expectations his hot-shot rich protégé is now experiencing. Their tight-knit, grounded team is set to guide this unique and explosive talent to a sustained period at the very top.

‘Charlie’ has already taken home the US Open title and the 19-year-old will be a key figure in writing the major narrative this season.

Next Gen in true contention

Early rounds of marquee tournaments are getting extremely difficult to call. So much so that the upcoming names continue to make a mockery of predictions.

Take Holger Rune. The Dane, a breakout Roland-Garros quarter-finalist, has shot into the limelight off the back of scorching end to the season with indoor titles in Stockholm and Paris.

The world No.11 has the firepower to trouble anyone and is a lethal front runner. Expect to see the 19-year-old in plenty of latter of stages.

Holger Rune Carlos Alcaraz Rolex Paris Masters 2022©Julien Crosnier / FFT

Jack Draper, Ben Shelton, Lorenzo Musetti, Brandon Nakashima, the young guns will keep firing. The next Alcaraz is only around the corner.

The WTA has a true gem in Zheng Qinwen. The witty Chinese youngster enjoyed a scintillating 2022 – surging into the Top 30 with a fearless game. The 20-year-old, who led Swiatek by a set in the Roland-Garros last 16, has been awarded the WTA Newcomer of the Year. Watch this space.

The youngest player in the Top 100 Linda Fruhvirtova (17) will be eager to make her mark again in 2023 having scooped a maiden WTA title in Chennai. Currently ranked at world No.78, Fruhvirtova is the perfect proof of the depth on the WTA.

Get ready for a plethora of early round shocks.

Qinwen Zheng / Roland-Garros 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Just one more step to go

Champions often speak of how setbacks and heartache propelled them to eventual major success.

Ons Jabeur, Casper Ruud, Coco Gauff and Nick Kyrgios all have ventured into recent Grand Slam finals and also have the all-court artillery to return to those trophy showdowns. This captivating quartet have mentioned they have unfinished business and all four will be worth a watch in 2023.

The likes of Stefanos Tsitsipas and Felix Auger-Aliassime will want their say alongside Jessica Pegula and Aryna Sabalenka.

Who can step up?

Ons Jabeur / Wimbledon 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Garcia back in the big time

Talk about a resurgence. We were flying with Caro again last season.

Reaping the rewards of bold, front-foot tennis, Caroline Garcia rediscovered her killer instincts to rocket back up the rankings.

The Cincinnati and WTA Finals champion appears free of former doubts, past weight of expectations. Flying freely on the court, Garcia will hope to build upon a US Open semi-final showing.

Having spoken of clarity of thought, clarity on court, Garcia is a dangerous proposition for all WTA rivals.

Point to prove

Just like the ‘Next Gen’ upcomers disrupting the early round orders, there are a host of former Grand Slam champions with the skill set and knowhow to compile a major title run.

Daniil Medvedev seems off the radar despite his incredible consistency over the past few seasons. 2020 US Open champion Dominic Thiem was building some serious momentum at the back end of last year.

World No.41 Naomi Osaka has four Grand Slams in the trophy cabinet and is far too talented to stay away from contention. Imagine the rivalries and finals if Osaka can recapture her conviction on court.

Rafael Nadal & Daniil Medvedev / Open d'Australie 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT