Tennishead awards 2023: Matches, moments and players that defined the season
In the absence of some of the biggest names of the last two decades, 2023 gave the chance to others to shine. Novak Djokovic certainly took that opportunity, be he wasn’t the only one.
The year was packed full of some sensational tennis and gripping storylines, as new rivalries on both Tours emerged and others developed.
We pay tribute to some of the men and women who lit up the year
PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
Until Carlos Alcaraz lost his US Open semi-final he was still a contender, but Novak Djokovic sealed our award by winning his 24th Grand Slam title. For the fourth time Djokovic won three Grand Slam titles in the year. But for his loss to Alcaraz in the Wimbledon final the 36-year-old Serb would have been the first man to win a calendar-year Grand Slam since 1969
Aryna Sabalenka excelled at Grand Slam level, making the semi-finals or better at all four tournaments, but Iga Swiatek squeezed out the Australian Open champion with her admirable consistency. The Pole won six titles in the year, including the French Open and the year-end WTA Finals. Swiatek also won two of her three meetings with Sabalenka during the year
Having begun the year as the world No 96, Ben Shelton made the top 20 by September. The 21-year-old American, a ferocious ball-striker who loves to attack, never looked back after reaching the quarter-finals of the Australian Open in his first Grand Slam appearance away from New York. He then made the US Open semi-finals before falling to Novak Djokovic
At the age of 16 Mirra Andreeva announced herself on the world stage by qualifying for the French Open and Wimbledon, where she went on to reach the third and fourth rounds respectively. Until a month before Wimbledon the Russian had never set foot on a grass court but she went on to beat two seeds, Barbora Krejcikova and Anastasia Potapova
MOST IMPROVED PLAYERS
Having first broken into the world’s top 100 two years ago, the 27-year-old Dutchman made further progress in 2023, rising from No 95 in the rankings at the start of the year to reach the world’s top 25 just eight months later. He also played in three finals, winning two of them (Pune and ’s-Hertogenbosch). He is coached by Kristof Vliegen, a former top 30 player
With her variety and fine touch, Karolina Muchova has long been seen as a major talent, but in 2023 the 27-year-old Czech added resilience to her game to reach the French Open final and US Open semi-finals. No 151 in the world in January, she went on to qualify for the season-ending WTA Finals, only to pull out after suffering the latest in a succession of injuries
DOUBLES TEAMS OF THE YEAR
Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek
Another year when the men’s doubles honours were widely shared saw Dodig and Krajicek win their first Grand Slam title together at Roland Garros. They also won four other titles (on hard courts, clay and grass) as Krajicek became world No 1 for the first time
Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova
With both players continuing to enjoy singles success, the Czechs were unable to compete as regularly as the doubles specialists. However, they still found time to prove they are the best in the business, winning the Australian Open, Indian Wells and San Diego
WHEELCHAIR PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
The 25-year-old Briton claimed his first year-end world No 1 ranking after winning the Australian and US Opens to take his career tally to eight Grand Slam singles titles. He was also No 1 in doubles after partnering Gordon Reid to three Grand Slam wins
Diede de Groot
The 26-year-old Dutchwoman took her run of consecutive Grand Slam singles titles to 12 by winning all four for the third year in a row. De Groot, who is on a 127-match winning streak, has won a total of 37 Grand Slam titles (20 in singles and 17 in doubles)
COACHES OF THE YEAR
Grigor Dimitrov enjoyed his best years during his first spell with Vallverdu and rehired him at the end of 2022. Under Vallverdu’s guidance, the 32-year-old climbed to No 14 in the world this year, his highest ranking position since 2018
Aryna Sabalenka has not been the easiest player to coach, but Dubrov, a fellow Belarusian, brings the best out of her. At 28 he is only three years older than the world No 2, who persuaded him not to quit after poor results early in 2022
MATCHES OF THE YEAR
Novak Djokovic’s 34-match winning streak at Wimbledon was ended by Carlos Alcaraz after a superb final in which they matched each other’s athleticism and shot-making. Alcaraz won 1-6 7-6(6) 6-1 3-6 6-4 to claim the title for the first time.
French Open semi-final
Karolina Muchova reached her first Grand Slam final by beating Aryna Sabalenka 7-6(5) 6-7(5) 7-5 in a classic three-hour battle of styles. The Czech’s guile and clever variations of pace eventually got the better of the hard-hitting Belarusian.
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