Jannik Sinner - ATP Finals hope

Top 10 ATP matches of 2023 – featuring Djokovic, Sinner and Alcaraz

As the ATP tour draws a curtain over its 2023 season, we can now look back on what has been a simply sensational season of men’s tennis. 

While the Grand Slams tend to get the most attention, and have provided some incredible matches in 2023, no one should be assuming the usual Tour has less to offer.

So as we reflect on a brilliant season, here are our top 10 best ATP encounters of the year.

10 – Medvedev vs. Zverev – Monte Carlo R16

Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev have engaged in six ATP battles over the 2023 season, but the most notable came at the Monte Carlo Country Club. 

The German fumbled the opportunity to serve for the match at 6-3 5-4 up, leaving the door open for Medvedev to work his way back into the match, which he did when he levelled the contest at one set a piece. 

A match that went right down to the wire saw Medvedev – who has expressed his hatred for clay in the past – fight back on countless occasions to defeat Zverev 3-6 7-5 7-6(7). 

It was one late-night thriller that Zverev will be eager to forget about.

9 – Murray vs. Lehecka – Doha SF

A list of the greatest matches of the year wouldn’t be complete without an Andy Murray epic. This time, it was an exhausting back and forth battle with Jiri Lehecka – a match that had it all. 

After dishing out a bagel in the first set, Murray was pegged back in the second and it looked all but over when he was broken in the decider. 

Some big serving helped the Brit rescue two match points to force Lehecka to serve the match out at 5-4, and it looked all but over once again when the Czech went 40-0 up. 

Numerous surgeries and a metal hip, however, will not stop him from leaving it all on the court. Miraculously, Murray managed to weave his way out of the game and seal a dramatic 6-0 3-6 7-6(6) win in true Murray fashion to advance to the final. 

8 – Djokovic vs. Korda – Adelaide F

In the final of the opening tournament of his record-breaking campaign, Novak Djokovic found himself producing some of his most clinical tennis, but for the best part of two hours, Sebastian Korda came up with all the answers.  

The Serb stared down the barrel of a championship point in the second set but dismissed it with ease, taking the momentum in his stride to battle through and level the match at 1-1. 

Djokovic prevailed 6-7(8) 7-6(3) 6-4 in a match that lasted just over three hours, putting the stamp on a perfect start to what has been yet another unforgettable year for this all-time great.

7 – Tiafoe vs. Struff – Stuttgart F

Going into the Stuttgart final, Jan-Lennard Struff was brimming with confidence as he was enjoying his biggest season, and it looked as if the stars were aligning for the German when he found himself just one set away from a first ATP title. 

Frances Tiafoe, however, was there to spoil the party. The American had all the replies to Struff’s aggressive net-rushing play and the two engaged in a crazy match. 

Tiafoe’s passing shots were pivotal in his comeback win as he drowned his opponent’s chances of a romantic win on home soil, taking it 4-6 7-6(1) 7-6(8), and sealing it with an epic drop volley winner.

6 – Dimitrov vs. de Minaur – Rotterdam QF

Although not the longest, Grigor Dimitrov and Alex de Minaur’s quarter-final in Rotterdam was most certainly one of the most athletic matches of the year, with both men assembling inspired tennis, exchange after exchange. 

It was only fitting that the match be decided by a final set tiebreak, with nothing to split them. Dimitrov managed to secure the victory 6-3 3-6 7-6(6), reminding the tennis world of the level he is capable of – the level that saw him rise to no.3 in the world. 

The match ended with the point of the encounter as the Bulgarian scrambled from forecourt to baseline to produce an insane winner down the line. 

5 – Thiem vs. Djere – Kitzbuhel SF

Grand Slam champion and former world no.3 Dominic Thiem has been making steady progress in his return to tennis in 2023 after a wrist injury sidelined him for months. 

Even though we have not seen the consistent form we know he is capable of, the Austrian produced glimpses of his best tennis during his almost fairytale week in Kitzbuhel. 

In his semi-final encounter with Laslo Djere, Thiem lingered on the edge of defeat for most of the match, but found his best tennis when it mattered most.

An inspired effort saw him save five match points in the final set to clinch victory 6-7(3) 7-5 7-6(10) and send the home crowd berserk.

4 – Paul vs. Fritz – Acapulco SF

American tennis has seen a resurgence over the past year and it’s no surprise that we are seeing all-American showdowns in the latter stages of tournaments. 

To advance to the Acapulco final, Tommy Paul produced a late night masterclass to defeat longtime friend and compatriot Taylor Fritz 6-3 6-7(2) 7-6(2) in an epic that lasted three hours and 25 minutes. 

Paul raced out of the blocks to an early lead and it was him that seemed the more likely over the course of the first two sets, but suddenly found himself down in the third. 

An emphatic all-round performance, however, was what helped him right back into the match and over the line in a deciding breaker.

3) – Hurkacz vs. Kokkinakis – Miami R64

A memorable Miami marathon saw Hurkacz come back from the brink to beat fellow big-hitter Kokkinakis over the course of three extraordinary tie breaks. The Pole’s incredible mental fortitude was on display as he saved five match points en route securing the win 6-7(10) 7-6(7) 7-6(6). 

The Australian did show mental fortitude of his own, by ruling out all five of Hurkacz’s break points in the deciding set, but ultimately fell at the final hurdle. 

Both players’ athleticism came to the forefront – rather surprisingly considering their game styles – as they engaged in remarkable rallies, one after another, breathing life into the Miami crowd. 

With the grit and determination both men showed, you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking it was a title showdown, rather than a round of 64 match-up.

2 – Sinner vs. Alcaraz – Miami SF

Only right to include one of Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz’s battles as it has already turned into the most exciting rivalry prospects in men’s tennis since ‘The Big 3’ era. The Italian got payback for the loss he suffered in Indian Wells when he dismantled Alcaraz 6-7(4) 6-4 6-2 in the Miami semi-final. 

The quality of tennis on display was out of this world, as you would expect, and they produced the point of the year during the first set which finished with Alcaraz on the floor and Sinner soaking in the applause from the Floridian crowd. 

Despite not yet boasting success at Grand Slam level, Sinner has proved throughout the year that he will rival the Spaniard – who he leads 4-3 in their head-to-head – for many years to come.

1 – Djokovic vs. Alcaraz – Cincinnati F

In their first encounter since that Wimbledon final, Djokovic got his revenge on Alcaraz in a gruelling Cincinnati final lasting three hours and 49 minutes – the longest three-set final in ATP history, since 1990. 

In a match that started in the afternoon sun and finished under the evening lights, Djokovic rallied from a set and a break down, saving a match point on the way, to win 5-7 7-6(7) 7-6(4). 

Emotions – just like the tennis on offer – were at an all-time high and the significance of the match in their inter-generational rivalry was highlighted in the post-match antics, with Alcaraz resorting to tears and Djokovic pulling his shirt to pieces in celebration.

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Jerome Coombe, Tennishead Writer, discovered his love for tennis journalism whilst studying languages and playing competitive tennis. He has a vast knowledge of tennis and strives to shed a light on all corners of the sport.