With the pair sharing 43 Grand Slam titles between them — Djokovic has 21 and Nadal 22 — scene is set for an epic showdown at Melbourne Park in Jan
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal kickstart their 2023 campaigns this week in Adelaide and Sydney respectively, with the celebrity veterans and extraordinary competitors eyeing up but greater Australian Open glory.
With the pair sharing 43 Grand Slam titles between them — Djokovic has 21 and Nadal 22 — the scene is about for an epic showdown at Melbourne Park in January.
Nadal is the defending Australian Open champion and Djokovic is a nine-time winner.
Djokovic returns Down Under for the first time due to the fact that being sensationally detained after which deported beforehand of the 2022 Australian Open because of his refusal to get vaccinated for COVID-19.
He starts his bid for an exquisite tenth Australian Open identify on the Adelaide International from Sunday, following a and truncated year wherein he overlooked two majors because of his vaccine popularity.
Djokovic became to begin with barred from getting into Australia before 2025, however a brand new authorities in Canberra reversed the ruling and he’s now gunning for extra silverware at his most a hit Grand Slam venue.
“Over the years I’ve been honestly fortunate to start very strong in Australia and I love playing there,” stated the arena wide variety five in Dubai final week, after finishing 2022 with a file-equalling sixth ATP Tour Finals crown.
“After manifestly what passed off in advance this 12 months, hopefully I will have a respectable reception there and hopefully that may help me play some proper tennis.”
He will face a top-notch field in Adelaide, inclusive of Felix Auger-Aliassime, Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, ranked six, seven and eight respectively.
In Djokovic’s absence this 12 months, Spanish first rate Nadal swept beyond Medvedev to win the Australian Open in an epic five-setter — then sponsored it up with a 14th French Open.
‘A lot of hours on court’
Nadal will start his preparations in Sydney on the United Cup, a brand new combined-teams event, in which a blockbuster showdown with Australian showman Nick Kyrgios will test his credentials.
Eighteen international locations will compete inside the event across 11 days from Thursday, with Brisbane, Perth and Sydney hosting organization video games in a spherical-robin layout.
Ties incorporate guys’s and girls’s singles fits and one blended doubles.
The finals collection will be played in Sydney.
World number three Casper Ruud and Germany’s Alexander Zverev, who is returning from a severe ankle injury, will take part.
Top-ranked Carlos Alcaraz will heat up on the Kooyong Classic exhibition in Melbourne from January 10-12 as he battles lower back from the stomach injury that shortened his pre-season training block.
The 19-year-vintage Spaniard, a primary risk to Djokovic and Nadal, overlooked the season-finishing ATP Finals and Davis Cup Finals with a muscle tear, however is confident he will be ready.
“I might say the secret’s to guidance plenty, spend loads of hours on court,” he stated this month.
“I can be ready and a hundred percent heading into Australia.”
Italy’s Jannik Sinner and international variety 9 Taylor Fritz, among others, may even use Kooyong to excellent-tune.
Women’s world primary Iga Swiatek will acclimatise in Perth together with her Polish teammates on the United Cup at the lower back of prevailing the French Open and US Open in 2022.
The 3-time Grand Slam champion is focused on a first Australian Open name after dropping in the semis this yr to Danielle Collins, who then crashed to Ashleigh Barty within the very last.
Swiatek inherited the pinnacle rating following the surprise retirement of Barty in March, and has been dominant ever due to the fact.
American world variety three Jessica Pegula and resurgent French international wide variety four Caroline Garcia, sparkling from beating Aryna Sabalenka to win the WTA Finals, additionally function at the United Cup.
Four of the other pinnacle 10 women start the 12 months in Adelaide, with 2nd-ranked Ons Jabeur, world quantity 5 Sabalenka, global quantity eight Daria Kasatkina and world variety 9 Veronika Kudermetova all entered.