The top tennis players and moments in 2023

1 week ago 15
  • D'Arcy Maine,

Nov 20, 2023, 09:42 AM ET

The WTA and ATP seasons are officially over, and what a twelvemonth it was connected and disconnected the court. With record-setting moments (hello, Novak Djokovic!), maiden large victories and caller stars cementing themselves astatine the apical of the game, 2023 was 1 to remember.

But successful a play brimming with memorable moments and achievements, who reigned supreme? Which players had the biggest breakthroughs? Who near it each retired there? We look astatine each those players arsenic we take our apical honors of the tennis season.

Men's subordinate of the year: Novak Djokovic

There is nary statement to beryllium had here. At property 36, and respective years (or 16) older than astir of his existent rivals, Djokovic reached the last astatine each 4 majors, winning each but Wimbledon, and ended the twelvemonth with yet different trophy astatine the ATP Finals. He earned 7 titles wide and reclaimed the satellite No. 1 ranking. With his triumph astatine the US Open successful September, helium tied Margaret Court for the all-time grounds of 24 for the astir large singles titles successful history.

After losing to Carlos Alcaraz astatine the All England Club, and leaving immoderate to wonderment if his grip atop the athletics was slipping, Djokovic quelled each of the doubters and didn't suffer again for 5 months. And helium continued to interruption much records, securing the year-end No. 1 for the eighth season, earning his seventh Paris Masters rubric earlier this period for his 40th 1000-level crown, and breaking a necktie with Roger Federer for the astir ATP Finals titles, with seven.

Djokovic didn't conscionable marque his lawsuit for the Player of the Year successful 2023, helium made it for the champion subordinate period.

Women's subordinate of the year: Iga Swiatek

Leading into the WTA Finals, Aryna Sabalenka mightiness person held the borderline for this class but then, well, Iga did Iga things. In Cancun, against the champion players successful the world, Swiatek was unstoppable: She ne'er dropped a set, and she mislaid lone a combined 20 games successful each 5 of her matches.

She recorded bagel sets implicit the reigning champions of the US Open (Coco Gauff) and Wimbledon (Marketa Vondrousova) and against Jessica Pegula successful the final. With the rubric -- her archetypal astatine the year-end lawsuit -- she took backmost the satellite No. 1 ranking aft an eight-week hiatus.

And that mightiness beryllium what's astir awesome of all. In the eyes of many, Swiatek had a "down" twelvemonth aft winning 2 majors successful 2022, and Sabalenka undoubtedly had the champion twelvemonth of her career. And yet, Swiatek inactive ended up with the champion resume for the play connected tour. She won a tour-leading six titles, including her 3rd astatine the French Open, and her 68 lucifer wins were much than anyone other arsenic well. The 22-year-old Swiatek besides played successful the astir finals and earned the astir successful prize money. She is present the year-end top-ranked subordinate for the 2nd consecutive season. While a fistful of players recovered a mode to vie against her, connected their champion days anyway, Swiatek inactive remains the champion determination is successful women's tennis.

Breakthrough players of the year: Coco Gauff and Ben Shelton

Let's preface this by saying determination are aggregate definitions for what a "breakthrough" is successful nonrecreational tennis. But careless of the assorted interpretations 1 could have, it would beryllium intolerable to reason that Gauff and Shelton didn't person the biggest years of their (very young) careers, and made a superior connection astir their respective places successful the sport.

Gauff, 19, has been seen arsenic the aboriginal of tennis since her star-making crook astatine Wimbledon successful 2019 -- and made herself firmly a superstar of the contiguous this year. After a devastating first-round nonaccomplishment astatine Wimbledon, Gauff regrouped with her caller squad and became each but unbeatable connected the hardcourt. She went 18-1, arsenic she won the titles astatine the Citi Open and the Cincinnati Open, earlier heading to New York and earning the archetypal large rubric of her vocation astatine the US Open. Gauff ends the play astatine a career-high ranking of No. 3 and volition undoubtedly look to physique connected her occurrence successful 2024.

Playing successful his archetypal afloat play connected tour, Shelton made it a twelvemonth to remember. He reached the quarterfinals astatine the Australian Open, successful conscionable his 2nd Grand Slam appearance, and skyrocketed successful the rankings. He was incapable to instantly replicate the aforesaid occurrence astatine the French Open oregon Wimbledon, oregon astatine the different circuit events, but got backmost connected way -- and past immoderate -- successful New York. Shelton, present 21, enamored the satellite with his almighty service and youthful enthusiasm, reaching the US Open semifinals. He past won the archetypal ATP rubric of his vocation successful Tokyo successful October, and reached a caller vocation precocious ranking of No. 15.

Comeback subordinate of the year: Elina Svitolina

There are comebacks, and past there's what Svitolina did this season. After missing conscionable implicit a twelvemonth connected circuit for maternity leave, the 29-year-old returned to contention successful April -- little than six months aft giving commencement to girl Skai -- and wasted nary clip successful returning to her highest form. She won the rubric successful Strasbourg successful May, past went connected to scope the quarterfinals astatine the French Open, and the semifinals astatine Wimbledon -- matching her best-ever effect astatine the tourney and astatine a major.

While her hardcourt play wasn't rather arsenic fruitful, Svitolina saw her ranking emergence to a play precocious of 24 and she ends the play astatine No. 25 -- not excessively shabby for idiosyncratic who was ranked No. 1344 successful April.

Best moment: Christopher Eubanks

It's hard to cognize precisely however to categorize Eubanks' magical performance astatine Wimbledon but we conscionable cognize it has to beryllium commemorated here. Entering Mallorca, the past writer lead-in lawsuit up of Wimbledon, Eubanks was ranked No. 77 and had ne'er won an ATP title, ne'er played successful the main gully astatine the All England Club and ne'er precocious past the 2nd circular astatine a major. That each changed dramatically successful the span of 3 weeks.

The 27-year-old Eubanks won the rubric astatine Mallorca, past went connected to person 1 of the astir memorable runs successful caller past astatine a Grand Slam. He reached the quarterfinals -- acknowledgment to upsets implicit section favourite Cameron Norrie and the No. 5 effect Stefanos Tsitsipas -- and won implicit fans connected the grounds and astir the satellite with his determination and on-court joy. He yet mislaid to Daniil Medvedev successful the quarters, but helium near London with a caller career-high ranking that continued to ascent successful the pursuing weeks.

The remainder of the twelvemonth wasn't rather arsenic successful, but Eubanks ended the twelvemonth astatine No. 34, and helium volition participate 2024 knowing precisely what he's susceptible of.

— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) June 8, 2023

Best match: Karolina Muchova vs. Aryna Sabalenka, French Open semifinals

This lucifer genuinely had everything, and someway the last people of 7-6 (5), 6-7 (5), 7-5 doesn't adjacent archer the afloat story. The unseeded Muchova was looking to scope her archetypal large final, and No. 2 effect Sabalenka, conscionable months removed from winning her maiden large rubric successful Melbourne, was looking to scope her 2nd straight. With the stakes precocious for some players, neither was abbreviated connected information -- and it showed with each and each hard-fought point.

Early successful the deciding set, it seemed Sabalenka would person nary problems it out, arsenic she raced retired to a 5-2 lead. But Muchova dug heavy and pulled disconnected 1 of the astir unbelievable comebacks successful caller memory. With her grit and icy determination connected afloat display, she saved a lucifer constituent and then won the adjacent 5 games to instrumentality the win successful 3 hours and 13 minutes.

"I knew it's the semifinals," Muchova said aft the match. "I play for the final. I was acceptable to permission it each retired there. I did."

Best farewell: John Isner

The longtime look of American men's tennis and the ATP's all-time ace leader, the 38-year-old Isner decided to telephone it a vocation aft the US Open -- and the tourney made definite helium felt the location Slam love, with a ceremonial aft his first-round victory.

Isner's 17-year singles vocation officially came to an extremity aft the 2nd circular successful a tightly contested nonaccomplishment to chap American Michael Mmoh 3-6, 4-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4, 7-6 (7). The match, which lasted astir 4 hours, drew a capableness assemblage astatine Grandstand -- and the fans gave Isner a lasting ovation that lasted until helium had near the court.

"This is wherefore I've worked arsenic hard arsenic I person my full life, to play successful atmospheres similar this," Isner said during a tearful interview. "I mightiness not triumph them all, arsenic we know, conscionable similar today. To play successful beforehand of this assemblage and person the enactment I've had is beauteous special."

Doubles squad of the year: Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova

While determination surely was a lawsuit to beryllium made for different doubles teams, particularly US Open and ATP Finals champions Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury, we had to spell with Krejcikova and Siniakova, successful portion due to the fact that of what they person achieved implicit the people of their years-long partnership. The duo won the Australian Open successful January for their eighth Grand Slam rubric and went connected to triumph the trophies successful Indian Wells and San Diego this season.

It was revealed aft the Billie Jean King Cup this period that the brace would beryllium going their abstracted ways successful 2024, truthful it seems fitting the astir palmy women's doubles squad successful caller years gets this honor.

The changemakers: The players

The 2023 play saw respective of the apical players travel guardant and advocator for improvements, including equal pay, scheduling changes, ball consistency and better conditions astatine events similar the WTA Finals. From those connected the respective WTA and ATP Player Councils, to those connected the enforcement committee astatine the Professional Tennis Players Association, to those who simply spoke retired connected their ain behalf, it was a twelvemonth of unprecedented outspokenness by galore of the sport's biggest names, similar Djokovic, Swiatek, Sabalenka, Taylor Fritz, Ons Jabeur, Stan Wawrinka and Marketa Vondrousova.

The 'Watch out, 2024' list

Rafael Nadal: He's baaaaaack. Or astatine least, depending connected who you speech to, helium should beryllium backmost successful clip for the Australian Open successful January. The 22-time large champion hasn't played since past year's lawsuit successful Melbourne owed to a hep wounded and consequent surgery, but he's been moving hard to marque his instrumentality for what helium has said volition apt beryllium his last twelvemonth connected tour. While it remains unclear what to expect from Nadal, if there's 1 happening we bash know, it's that helium volition permission everything helium has connected the tribunal for each and each match.

Naomi Osaka: The four-time large champion missed the entirety of the 2023 play for maternity leave. She gave commencement to girl Shai successful July and returned to the signifier courts not agelong after. Osaka is slated to marque her instrumentality to contention successful Brisbane astatine the commencement of the caller twelvemonth and, with a renewed emotion for the crippled aft her clip away, volition look to reclaim her spot atop the sport.

Angelique Kerber: Like Osaka, Kerber -- besides a erstwhile No. 1 and a three-time large champion -- is expected to marque her instrumentality Down Under aft giving commencement to her girl Liana successful February. Kerber hasn't played a lucifer since Wimbledon successful 2022 but is expected to play for Germany astatine the year-opening United Cup. In a caller interrogation with Porsche, Kerber said she was excited for the situation successful returning and said "everything was going to plan" successful presumption of her preparations.

Carlos Alcaraz: After winning the 2022 US Open, it seemed arsenic if the Carlos Alcaraz Era was officially upon us. But successful summation to immoderate injuries, Djokovic had different ideas, and Alcaraz didn't precisely predominate successful the mode immoderate seemed to expect. He inactive had an unthinkable twelvemonth -- winning six titles, including astatine Wimbledon, and spending the full play ranked wrong the apical 2. But with possibly somewhat little expectations and hype, immoderate clip to regroup earlier 2024, and the anticipation of a doubles concern with Nadal astatine the Olympics implicit the summer, this could beryllium a very, situation we say, aureate twelvemonth for Alcaraz.

Jannik Sinner: The 22-year-old Italian's endowment and imaginable has ne'er been successful doubt, but helium proved conscionable however susceptible helium is down the agelong successful 2023. Case successful point: Sinner mislaid the archetypal six of his head-to-head meetings against Medvedev, including during 2 finals aboriginal this season, but helium recovered a mode to triumph their past 2 meetings successful the finals astatine Beijing and Vienna. And helium proved his caller surge was nary fluke arsenic helium snapped Djokovic's 19-match triumph streak successful radical play astatine the ATP Finals to gain his archetypal vocation triumph implicit the 24-time large champion. Could 2024 beryllium the twelvemonth wherever everything genuinely comes unneurotic for Sinner? Alcaraz surely thinks so. "I deliberation he's going to scope No. 1 successful 2024 oregon he's going to springiness himself the accidental to scope the No. 1," Alcaraz said astatine the ATP Finals.

Emma Raducanu: The 2021 US Open champion has been sidelined from contention since April and needed country connected some hands and her near ankle. She has since returned to grooming and, contempt withdrawing from an accumulation lawsuit adjacent month, is expected to instrumentality successful clip for the commencement of the season. Her ranking has fallen to No. 289, but we each cognize what happened the past clip Raducanu was nether the radar.

Tommy Paul: The American had a career-best twelvemonth connected tour, reaching his archetypal large semifinal astatine the Australian Open, playing successful 2 ATP finals, signaling his archetypal triumph implicit a satellite No. 1 (Alcaraz) astatine the Canadian Open successful August and with perhaps the astir devoted instrumentality connected tour. He ends the play ranked astatine No. 13 and poised to physique connected his season's success.

Leylah Fernandez: The 21-year-old, who mislaid to Raducanu successful the US Open last 2 years ago, ended the twelvemonth with the rubric successful Hong Kong and with her ascendant show astatine the Billie Jean King Cup, successful which she won each 4 of her singles matches to pb Canada to its first-ever title. Few bring arsenic overmuch momentum arsenic she does into the caller season.