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Djokovic, Alcaraz, Sinner and Shelton among men to watch at Australian Open

Novak Djokovic Novak Djokovic - The Canadian Press

Here are some of the men to watch at the Australian Open, which is scheduled to start at Melbourne Park on Sunday morning (Saturday night ET):

Watch coverage of the Australian Open all tournament long LIVE on TSN and TSN+.


Seeding: 1

Career-Best Ranking: 1

Country: Serbia

Age: 36

Career Titles: 98

Grand Slam Titles: 24 — Australian Open (10: 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2023), French Open (3: 2016, 2021, 2023), Wimbledon (7: 2011, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022), U.S. Open (4: 2011, 2015, 2018, 2023)

Last 5 Australian Opens: 2023-Won Championship, 2022-Did Not Play, 2021-W, 2020-W, 2019-W

The Bracket: Could face three-time major champion Andy Murray in the third round.

Aces: Djokovic is on a 28-match Australian Open winning streak — a record in the Open era. ... That run was paused in 2022, when Djokovic was not allowed to participate in the event after being deported from the country because he was not vaccinated against COVID-19. Australia has since relaxed those restrictions. ... Dealt with a sore right wrist at the start of this season.

He Said It: “Last year coming into Australia, obviously after what happened two years ago, I did feel slightly more nervous, particularly in the first week or so being in Australia.”


Seeding: 2

Career-Best Ranking: 1

Country: Spain

Age: 20

Career Titles: 12

Grand Slam Titles: 2 — Wimbledon (2023), U.S. Open (2022)

Last 5 Australian Opens: 2023-DNP, 2022-Lost in 3rd Rd, 2021-2nd, 2020-DNP, 2019-DNP

The Bracket: Faces Richard Gasquet in the first round.

Aces: Missed last year's Australian Open with an injured right leg. ... He's only appeared in the tournament twice and it's the only major where he hasn't been to at least the semifinals already (he hasn't been past the third round in Melbourne so far). ... Chose not to play any tuneup tournament in January.

He Said It: “I consider myself a really complete player.”


Seeding: 3

Career-Best Ranking: 1

Country: Russia

Age: 27

Career Titles: 20

Grand Slam Titles: 1 — U.S. Open (2021)

Last 5 Australian Opens: 2023-3rd, 2022-Runner-Up, 2021-Runner-Up, 2020-4th, 2019-4th

The Bracket: Could face 2020 U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem or Felix Auger-Aliassime in the third round.

Aces: Medvedev is 1-4 in Grand Slam finals, all on hard courts, with every title match against Djokovic or Rafael Nadal, who is missing this Australian Open because of a muscle tear near his surgically repaired hip. ... Medvedev was the runner-up in Melbourne to Djokovic in 2021 and to Nadal in 2022. ... Led the ATP in matches (84) and wins (66) in 2023. ... Didn't play a warmup event before Melbourne.

He Said It: “Going to ... start with a Slam straightaway, which is going to be new for me. But let’s see.”


Seeding: 4

Career-Best Ranking: 4

Country: Italy

Age: 22

Career Titles: 10

Grand Slam Titles: None — Best: Semifinals, Wimbledon (2023)

Last 5 Australian Opens: 2023-4th, 2022-QF, 2021-1st, 2020-2nd, 2019-DNP

The Bracket: Could face Karen Khachanov or Frances Tiafoe — both Slam semifinalists in the past — in the fourth round.

Aces: Lost each of the past two years at Melbourne Park to 2023 runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas. ... With career highs of 57 wins and four titles last season, climbed to No. 4, equaling Adriano Panatta (who did it in 1976) for the highest ATP ranking for an Italian man. ... Won his first ATP Masters 1000 title last year. ... Led Italy to the Davis Cup title in November.

He Said It: “This is a really important win for me and for the whole team and Italy together. We felt the pressure. We had a lot of responsibility.”


Seeding: 7

Career-Best Ranking: 3

Country: Greece

Age: 25

Career Titles: 10

Grand Slam Titles: None — Best: Runner-Up, French Open (2021), Australian Open (2023)

Last 5 Australian Opens: 2023-RU, 2022-SF, 2021-3rd, 2020-SF, 2019-SF

The Bracket: Faces 2021 Wimbledon runner-up Matteo Berrettini in the first round.

Aces: Reached at least the semifinals in four of the past five years in Melbourne, including a loss to Djokovic in the 2023 title match. ... Both of his appearances in Slam finals ended with defeats against Djokovic. ... Earned victories against Djokovic, Nadal and Roger Federer before turning 21.

He Said It: “I was dreaming about the trophy, lifting that trophy. I even dreamt it last night in my sleep. The desire is really there. I really, really want it badly. But just dreaming about it won’t make it happen.”


Seeding: 8

Career-Best Ranking: 4

Country: Denmark

Age: 20

Career Titles: 4

Grand Slam Titles: None — Best: Quarterfinals, French Open (2022, 2023), Wimbledon (2023)

Last 5 Australian Opens: 2023-4th, 2022-1st, 2021-DNP, 2020-DNP, 2019-DNP

The Bracket: Could face Medvedev or Grigor Dimitrov in the quarterfinals.

Aces: He and Alcaraz both finished 2023 ranked in the ATP's top 10, the first time two players 20 or younger accomplished that since 2000, when Marat Safin and Lleyton Hewitt did it. ... The central figure in an episode of Season 2 of the Netflix docuseries “Break Point.” ... Now coached by Boris Becker.

He Said It: “(Becker) has a lot of tools because he’s been there himself, also, mentally. He really knows how you feel. I think if you haven’t been there in the situation, you don’t know really how it feels to be there with the pressure and everything.”


Seeding: 10

Career-Best Ranking: 10

Country: Australia

Age: 24

Career Titles: 7

Grand Slam Titles: None — Best: Quarterfinals, U.S. Open (2020)

Last 5 Australian Opens: 2023-4th 2022-4th, 2021-3rd, 2020-DNP, 2019-3rd

The Bracket: Faces 2016 Wimbledon runner-up Milos Raonic in the first round.

Aces: Broke into the top 10 for the first time this week, the first man from Australia to do so since Hewitt in 2006. ... Beat Djokovic, Taylor Fritz and Alexander Zverev while representing Australia in the United Cup to begin the season; he'd never collected consecutive wins against top-10 opponents before.

He Said It: “I played some great tennis going into the Australian Open, my home Slam. Going to play in front of friends and family. It’s going to be hopefully packed, great energy. I’m stoked. I can’t wait to start.”


Seeding: 16

Career-Best Ranking: 15

Country: United States

Age: 21

Career Titles: 1

Grand Slam Titles: None — Best: SF, U.S. Open (2023)

Last 5 Australian Opens: 2023-QF, 2022-DNP, 2021-DNP, 2020-DNP, 2019-DNP

The Bracket: Could face Djokovic in the fourth round.

Aces: Fast-serving, high-energy player. ... Entered 2023 with an 0-1 record in Grand Slam play and then went 10-4 at majors during his first full season on tour after winning an NCAA singles title at the University of Florida. ... Was coached by his father, former pro player Bryan, in college; last season, Bryan left the school to join Ben on tour.

He Said It: “I’m at a point where the losses don’t break me because I have very long-term goals.”


Howard Fendrich has been the AP’s tennis writer since 2002. Find his stories here:


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