As the sun set over the retractable roof of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on Sunday, July 16, and a young Spaniard by the name of Carlos Alcaraz lifted the golden Wimbledon Open trophy over his head, three of the four Grand Slam tournaments for 2023 drew to a close. With a few expected results and some surprises throughout the 2023 season, the tennis fraternity has its gaze transfixed on the Flushing Meadows for one final Grand Slam showdown at the US Open, which will kickstart at the end of August. Given the results of three of the year’s four Grand Slams, most tennis fans have one pertinent question on their minds – who are the best tennis players in 2023 that we should be keeping an eye out for?
The American rock band Green Day said (or sang) nearly two decades ago, “Wake me up when September ends.” However, for those who took the lyrics quite literally in 2022, they woke up in a world where the legendary Roger Federer had bid a teary-eyed farewell to the sport. The Swiss maestro’s retirement meant that 2023 would see tennis without all four members of its fabled quartet participating in over a decade. The wee months of 2023 also saw Rafael Nadal pull out of the Australian Open, and he has been missing from action ever since. If recent reports are to be believed, the winner of 22 Grand Slams will sit out the remainder of 2023, and might even be considering retiring in the following season.
With both Federer and Nadal out of the equation, 2023 effectively saw the two survivors of the quartet, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, competing against veterans and next-gen players alike. While the former won two Grand Slams and reached the final of a third, Murray has not been at his imperious best this year.
The list of veterans saying goodbye to tennis extends to the women’s game as well. September 2022 saw Serena Williams, one of the most decorated tennis players ever, retire from professional tennis. Her famous rival from Russia, Maria Sharapova, had already quit the sport in 2020. With stalwarts exiting the women’s tennis landscape, the throne of absolute dominance lies barren and is up for grabs.
While there is no absolute King or Queen in the world of tennis anymore, 2023 is surely an exciting time to be a tennis fan as the world continues to look for new legends to root for. On that note, we try to answer the question of who the best tennis players in 2023 are.
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Who are the best male tennis players in 2023 and what are their ATP rankings?
Like a banyan tree which stays rooted and stands tall for years amidst even the most turbulent of times, Novak Djokovic enters each tournament as a favourite and has lived up to his legendary reputation for a lion’s share of his career. In 2023, the 36-year-old Serbian won the Australian Open and the French Open, beating Rafael Nadal to break the record for the most Grand Slam titles in men’s singles events with 23 wins. He also made it to the final of the Wimbledon Open in 2023, losing the championship to Carlos Alcaraz. As is often the case, Djokovic heads to the US Open 2023 as one of the favourites to lift the title. It remains to be seen if the Serbian veteran can take over the summit spot from Carlos Alcaraz and end the year atop the ATP Men’s Singles Rankings.
Current ATP ranking: Number 2
The world of tennis, at present, is looking at a new challenger for the throne in Carlos Alcaraz. At the young age of 20, the Spaniard sits at the top of the world rankings with 12 ATP Tour-level titles to his name. His honours list includes a US Open championship, a Wimbledon Open crown and four Masters 1000 titles. Alcaraz reached the summit of the men’s singles rankings at 19 years and four months of age, becoming the youngest player in the Open Era to achieve the remarkable feat. With years of professional tennis ahead of him in his career, the prospect of Carlos Alcaraz reaching exemplary heights is enthralling for tennis fans who are looking at the future of the sport.
Current ATP ranking: Number 1
A talented player with a strong backhand shot, which at times makes fans and experts draw a parallel to the legendary Roger Federer, Daniil Medvedev has been around in the role of a challenger for the past few years. The Russian tennis player enjoys a 71 per cent win record in ATP Tours and Grand Slams, a stat which speaks volumes of his potential. However, Medvedev’s solitary Grand Slam win at the 2021 US Open fails to portray the true picture of the player that he is. Ranked number three at present in the men’s singles rankings, Daniil Medvedev has been one of the most consistent players on the court in recent years.
Current ATP ranking: Number 3
If Daniil Medvedev’s backhand is reminiscent of Roger Federer’s signature shot, Stefanos Tsitsipas’ entire playing style is modelled around the Swiss maestro’s game. The 24-year-old professional tennis player from Greece considers Federer his role model, which makes sense considering he is one of the finest among the modern crop of tennis players. He has won nine major titles in his career and has featured in two Grand Slam finals so far ― the 2021 French Open and the 2023 Australian Open. Unfortunately, he lost to Novak Djokovic on both occasions. Tsitsipas holds the fifth position in the men’s singles rankings and promises to be an exciting player in the upcoming days.
Current ATP ranking: Number 5
Another promising star in the making, Casper Ruud made the entire tennis fraternity take note of him through his performances in 2022. The Norwegian tennis player reached a career-high men’s singles ranking of number two in 2022, becoming the highest-ranked tennis player from Norway in history. Ruud has won ten ATP tour singles titles, nine of them on clay courts. He has also made it to three Grand Slam finals until now: the 2022 French Open, the 2022 US Open and the 2023 French Open. In addition, Ruud also played in the 2022 ATP Finals, where he lost the title to Novak Djokovic. Aged 24, Casper Ruud still has a long career ahead of him and is likely to win major championships in the future.
Current ATP ranking: Number 4
At the tender age of 20, Holger Rune has already achieved what many professional tennis players strive to emulate in their entire careers. The Danish tennis player has already won four major titles and currently sits at the sixth position in the men’s singles ranking― a feat no other Danish individual has ever accomplished. Rune also enjoys a 63% winning rate in ATP Tours, Grand Slams and the Davis Cup. While he is yet to reach a Grand Slam semi-final― his best performance being at the 2022 French Open where he lost to eventual champion Rafael Nadal in the quarter final― Holger Rune exhibits all the virtues of an incredible tennis player, and a potential master of the game as his career progresses.
Current ATP ranking: Number 6
The world might not know of Andrey Rublev since he has not won any Grand Slam titles, but that doesn’t take anything away from his talent. The Russian is a versatile player as he has performed consistently in both singles and doubles events over the years. Rublev, along with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, won the gold medal in the mixed doubles category at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The Russian is also the holder of an unfortunate record― he is the only player in the Open Era to have made it to the quarter-finals of all four Grand Slams but failed to advance to the last four. Rublev holds the seventh spot in the men’s singles rankings at present and, with his potential, will surely look forward to winning a few Grand Slams in the coming years.
Current ATP ranking: Number 7
World number eight Jannik Sinner is the winner of seven major titles, has made it to the semi-finals of a Grand Slam (Wimbledon Open 2023) and enjoys a 70 per cent win record― all at the age of 21. Sinner also holds the record of being the youngest ATP title holder since 2008 after winning the 2020 Sofia Open and is the youngest to win five titles since Novak Djokovic (the Serbian achieved this feat in 2007). In the changing landscape of men’s tennis, Jannik Sinner has an opportunity to become one of the modern-day greats. Whether he capitalises on this opportunity, however, remains to be seen.
Current ATP ranking: Number 8
Who are the best female tennis players in 2023 and what are their WTA rankings?
Leading the charge among the young guns in women’s tennis is Iga Swiatek, the Polish professional tennis player who announced her arrival on the big stage with a bang at the 2020 French Open. She won the Grand Slam without dropping a single set and became the lowest-ranked women’s singles player to win the title. Since then, Swiatek has never looked back. At just 22 years of age, she has won 14 major championships, including four Grand Slams (2020 French Open, 2022 French Open, 2022 US Open and 2023 French Open), enjoys a career win record of 80% and currently sits at the summit of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) singles rankings. Swiatek also created a 21st-century record by going on an unbeaten streak of 37 matches in 2022. The world surely has high hopes for the Polish tennis prodigy in the years to come.
Current WTA ranking: Number 1
Versatility, as a virtue, can never be stressed enough, and Aryna Sabalenka is the living embodiment of the same― she sits at the second spot in women’s singles rankings and at the pole position in the women’s doubles rankings. At the age of 25, the Belarusian has won one Grand Slam singles event (the 2023 Australian Open) and two Grand Slam doubles events (the 2019 US Open and the 2021 Australian Open). Overall, Sabalenka has won 13 singles titles and six doubles titles and is primed to be among the best in the world for the next few years.
Current WTA ranking: Number 2
Hailing from Kazakhstan, Elena Rybakina is the only player from her motherland to feature in the top 10 of the women’s singles rankings. The 24-year-old is currently sitting at the third spot on the rankings and has won five singles titles in her career, including a Grand Slam at the Wimbledon Open 2022, becoming the only Kazakhstani to do so. Rybakina is renowned for her powerful serve and will likely use her technique to her advantage in the coming years to try and cement her place among the best tennis players in the world.
Current WTA ranking: Number 3
It might have taken her around a decade to secure a place in the top 100 of the WTA singles rankings, but Jessica Pegula has shown tremendous consistency in the last few years to make it to the business end of major championships on a regular basis. Ranked fourth in the women’s singles rankings and third in the women’s doubles rankings, the 29-year-old American tennis player is arguably one of the busiest to play the game, featuring regularly in both singles and doubles events. Her partnership with Coco Gauff is revered in modern times, with the duo even making it to the finals of the 2022 French Open.
Current WTA ranking: Number 4
Coming from Tunisia, Ons Jabeur is one of the most prolific tennis players of recent times. The 28-year-old is the only Arab woman to feature in a Grand Slam final, a feat she has achieved thrice in her career― the Wimbledon Open 2022, the US Open 2022 and the Wimbledon Open 2023. Jabeur is also the highest-ranked African and Arab tennis player in the history of the WTA rankings. Currently ranked sixth in the women’s singles rankings, she has won four major titles in her career so far, including the 2021 Birmingham Classic and the 2022 Madrid Open.
Current WTA ranking: Number 6
Though she is yet to reach her twenties, Coco Gauff has already taken the world of tennis by storm. The 19-year-old American prodigy is currently enjoying a career-best ranking of fourth place in the women’s singles rankings while simultaneously sitting in seventh place in the doubles rankings. Her run of performances in the Grand Slams has also been quite impressive, making it to the finals of the French Open 2022 singles event as well as the finals of the women’s doubles event at the US Open 2021 and the French Open 2022. The teenager promises to be a star in the making, one who has the potential to leave a lasting legacy.
Current WTA ranking: Number 7
A stalwart in the sea of young and upcoming stars, Petra Kvitova has been around for a long time, having won 31 major titles in her illustrious career. The former world number two in the women’s singles rankings has won two Grand Slam titles, both on the grass courts of the Wimbledon Open (once in 2011 and then another in 2014). While she hit a rough patch in the middle, the 33-year-old won her biggest title in five years at the Miami Open 2023. The win helped the Czech tennis star break into the top 10 in the women’s singles rankings for the first time since September 2021, as she proved to the world that “form is temporary, class is permanent.”
Current WTA ranking: Number 8
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(Main Image Credits: Courtesy Instagram/@Novak Djokovic and Instagram/@Iga Świątek)
(Featured Image Credits: Courtesy Instagram/@Carlos Alcaraz Garfia)