After the retirement of the Swiss Roger Federer last year, the race to be the best tennis player of all time became a matter of two: Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. This 2023 can be a definitive year for these two racket titans .
Photos: Flickr-Charlie Cowins, Flickr-Carine06
LatinAmerican Post | Juan Felipe Rengifo González
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Leer en español: Nadal y Djokovic, la batalla por ser el mejor de la historia del tenis está en juego este 2023
After being deported from Australia last year due to not being vaccinated for COVID-19, Serbian Novak Djokovic returns to play his favorite tournament. With nine titles won on Australian territory throughout his career, he has become the ATP player with the most Australian Open trophies. Now, he wants to get the title vacated by Rafael Nadal and equal him in Grand Slam titles.
"Nole"s preparation has been intense, and he already won his first title of the season at the Adelaide Open, after beating American Sebastian Korda in an exciting final. The Serbian had to push himself to the maximum, even saving a championship point. However, his mentality and consistency continue to be determining factors in his style of play.
Novak Djokovic wants to put aside a 2022 season where there was more talk about the vetoes he experienced due to his non-vaccination than about the 1,000 victories he achieved in ATP tournaments. Likewise, the mark that he surpassed in disputed finals or his seventh title at Wimbledon was ignored, an excellent performance, despite not being able to play the full calendar.
The Serb's main challenges this season will be focused on improving his participation at Roland Garros, where he reached the quarterfinals last year. Similarly, Djokovic seeks to defend the title won in the “Tennis Cathedral” (Wimbledon). However, the big unknown is how far he can go at the US Open. Lately, Nole has not performed as he would like in the United States. This is a tournament that has eluded him in recent years and where he has achieved mixed results in recent editions. In 2020, the Serb was suspended for unintentionally assaulting a linesman. In 2021, he managed to advance to the final, but was defeated by Russian Daniil Medvedev in straight sets.
Rafael Nadal, current number two in the ATP ranking and number 1 seed at the Australia Open, lives a radically opposite scenario to Djokovic. The Spaniard was defeated in his two preparation games prior to the first Grand Slam of the season. Unlike the Serbian, feelings about Nadal's have not been positive, mainly because his physical condition and injuries have been affecting his performance.
The bad forecasts at the start of the season came true on Wednesday at Melbourne Park, when an unexpected injury impacted the performance of "Rafa". In the end, this situation made him lose the second round game against the American Mackenzie McDonald. The Spaniard left the field dejected and with many questions about his recovery process, as well as the tournaments that he will be able to play in the short term.
The Spaniard will be focused on fully recovering. According to medical reports and after performing an MRI, the tennis player's injury is located in the iliopsoas muscle of his left leg, which gives him a disability of six to eight weeks. His return to competition is expected to be at the start of the clay court season, a surface where he has been the most dominant in history. In addition, he will try to get his fifteenth Roland Garros and also fight for the other tournaments that will be held throughout 2023.
With the whole season ahead, surely the two best tennis players in history, who are still active, will continue to expand their record. However, it won't be easy because players like the Russians Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, the Greek Stefannos Tsitsipas, the Norwegian Casper Rudd, the Danish Holger Rune and the current number 1, the Spanish Carlos Alcaraz have a high level. For sure, they will show the best of their game.