Novak Djokovic may not have ended the year top of the rankings in men’s tennis, but the rejuvenated Serb is undoubtedly the man to beat heading into 2023. Djokovic ended an unprecedented season impacted by his Covid-19 vaccination reluctance by matching Roger Federer’s record of six ATP Finals crowns in Turin.
The 35-year-old is ranked No.5 in the world after he was unable to compete in the Australian Open and US Open this year due to his vaccination status. And ranking points were also not up for grabs as he sealed his 21st Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in July.
Carlos Alcaraz – the youngest ever year-end No.1 – has a mighty job on his hands to outshine Djokovic in the Grand Slams next season. The Spaniard represents the sport’s present and future, but many expect the irrepressible Djokovic to add to his Grand Slam tally at least once next season.
And there are now just two horses left in the race for overall Grand Slam wins, with the iconic Big Three winning 63 of the sport’s most prestigious titles across a remarkable period of shared dominance. Rafael Nadal holds the record with 22 Grand Slams, but the Spaniard has been derailed by injuries of late and was unable to add to his monumental Melbourne victory and 14th French Open triumph.
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Meanwhile, the relentless Djokovic looks as fresh as ever and could add another plethora of titles to his stacked collection next year as he further stakes his claim to be considered the greatest ever. Federer, a true icon and perhaps the most watchable player to grace the court, proved in his retirement that the ‘GOAT’ debate is not simply measured by weight of silverware.
Federer was a true artist on the court and his own 15 years of domination has closed the debate for some tennis fans, who find it hard to believe that we will ever see a more gifted player ever again. That Federer has accrued less Grand Slams than Djokovic and Nadal is not conclusive evidence that he was not the finest player.
And while we continue to admire two of the greatest tennis players of all time heading into 2023, there is one record that could help lean the GOAT debate in Djokovic’s favour. Federer sits on 103 career titles in his retirement, while Nadal boasts 92 titles and Djokovic currently has 91 trophies.
Revitalised Djokovic won five events in 2022, and will make significant inroads on that gap with Federer if he continues to dominate, which he has threatened to do ever since missing out on the US Open in September.
And what better place to start than Melbourne Park, the home of his most successful Grand Slam of all. Djokovic is targeting his tenth Australian Open crown, and will be laser-focused on maintaining his ominous form heading into another season that he hopes will be ladened with even more success.