One of the greatest tennis tournaments in the world takes place in Melbourne (Wurundjeri Land), the Australian Open, and lucky for us it’s just landed. From the 17th of January to the 29th of January you’ll be able to watch the action take place across Rod Laver Arena, Margaret Court Arena, John Cain Arena and Kia Arena. The best part (other than the unbelievable tennis on show obviously)? Watching the action at your local, where no tickets are required and the air con reigns supreme.
Sharing an ice cold beer with mates, while someone tries to tell you how they would’ve made it to Wimbledon should it not be for their knee? One of life’s greatest pleasures. But if you don’t consider yourself an expert in the ‘sport of kings’, stress less. We’ve pulled together a basic guide of the names to drop the next time you’re mid-conversation at the pub. You’ll be able to convince a group of people that you know what you’re talking about (we hope).
Aussies everywhere are still shedding a tear at the departure of Ash Barty from the professional tennis circuit. But we’ve still got plenty to look forward to as the action heats up.
10. Maria Sakkari
Maria Sakkari brings the power on court, she knows it and her opponents know it. Working her way into the top ten rankings in 2021 thanks to a breakout season at Roland-Garros and US Open. Sakkari recorded wins over the world number two (Osaka in Miami and Sabalenka at the WTA Finals).
Sakkari leans into her aggression, making her an intimidating threat from the outset. But it’s been controlling the aggression and power that has seen Sakkari rise in the ranks. Having twice made the round of 16, could we see this outlier come into form at the right time?
9. Andrey Rublev
This player has won 12 titles on the ATP Tour, won the Davis Cup for Russia in 2021 and reached his career-high ranking as #5 in September of 2021. But you’d be forgiven if you’ve never heard the name before.
Those in tennis will know Andrey Rublev, who rose into the ranks dramatically in 2019 (or as a junior who was prone to a temper tantrum). An offensive baseliner with a big forehand, the Quarterfinals are the highest peak Rublev has reached in a Grand Slam. We’re predicting 2023 could be the year he goes one further?
8. Aryna Sabalenka
Aryna Sabalenka has kicked off the 2023 season off with the perfect start. Taking out the Adelaide International 1 tournament by beating Czech qualifier Linda Noskova. That’s certainly the ideal warm up heading into the Australian Open, but even without the win, we have confidence the Belarusian will go far.
Sabalenka lifted two titles in 2021 at Abu Dhabi and Madrid and was a runner up at Stuttgart. Reaching the Semifinals at Wimbledon and the US Open, the furthest she’s seen in an Australian Open has been the fourth round. A tournament she’d rather forget, the 2022 Adelaide International, saw her hit 39 double faults across two losses. A stat she’s seemed to shake off, given her success at the same event this year.
A right handed powerhouse, keep Sabalenka in mind when planning your Australian Open watching schedule at the pub.
7. Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic, heard of him? A stalwart in the tennis world, Djokovic has had a hold on the ATP circuit for two decades, but we don’t need to tell you that.
Djokovic will be bidding to lock in his fourth Australian Open title, and a tenth title overall. Should he be successful, he’ll level the one and only Rafael Nadal with 22 Grand Slam singles titles (only a little impressive, right?).
Sitting in the number one ranking heading into the 2022 season, the subsequent banning from the Australian Open and the US Open due to Djokovic’s refusal to get vaccinated against Covid-19 saw him tumble down the seed list.
We’re excited to see him back, you can’t keep a champion down too long and he’ll be looking to stamp his authority back on the competition.
6. Jessica Pegula
Country: United States of America
I know we’ve basically said that every athlete up until this point is the one to watch at this year’s Australian Open, but we really mean it this time. Jessica Pegula is THE one to watch.
Many have Pegula as their tip to take out the 2023 Australian Open, purely based on perfect timing. Coming into the tournament in sizzling form, Pegula it seems is ready to pull it all together at the right moment.
Three Quarterfinal performances in 2022 across the French Open, the US Open and the Australian Open, plus a third round finish at Wimbledon saw Pegula quickly rise through the ranks. A win over the top seed in Iga Swiatek all but locked in her top five rank heading into the new season.
Keep your eyes on Pegula this year, we mean it this time.
5. Stefanos Tsitsipas
Stefanos Tsitsipas is quickly becoming one of the most recognisable faces on the ATP circuit. A regular in each tournament since 2017, Tsitsipas is most known for being the youngest of 30 players to defeat the ‘Big 3’, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, all before turning 21.
The top-ranked Greek player of all time, Tsitsipas reached the final of the 2021 French Open but hasn’t been able to surpass the final hurdle yet.
A fan favourite (of the person writing this maybe), Tsitsipas has an absolutely stacked competition full of stars ahead of him, could he pull off the unthinkable?
4. Ons Jabeur
Now it’s time to get down to the big dogs of tennis, meet Ons Jabeur.
A Tunisian star who had a breakout 2022 season, reaching the Wimbledon and US Open Finals going down to Elena Rybakina and Iga Swiatek respectively. The highest-ranked Arab player in history, Jabeur famously once thought we would quit tennis to become a housewife (we’re pretty happy she stuck with it).
With Ash Barty out of the picture, the door is wide open for the top seeds of the WTA to take her place. Swiatek has made a claim, but Jabeur won’t be too far behind. Will we see Jabeur’s first ever Grand Slam title this year?
3. Casper Ruud
Ask the experts, who is the underdog to watch heading into the Australian Open? Many have their eyes firmly on Casper Rudd. Strange to think that the second ranked seed is considered an underdog heading in, but with names like Stefanos Tsitsipas and Novak Djokovic breathing down your neck, you could understand why.
In 2018, Ruud became the first Norwegian to qualify for a Grand Slam in 17 years. Winning his first round, many were pleased to see Rudd up there in contention.
Stamping his name on the competition as a real threat (and not a spot-filler), Ruud pushed forward to gain the respect he deserved, reaching the French Open and US Open Finals in 2022, going down to number one seed, Carlos Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal respectively.
With Alcaraz ruled out of the Australian Open this year, the door is open for Ruud to make it his own. Could the youngster take on a legend like Nadal?
2. Iga Swiatek
Iga Swiatek is the best in the world, thanks to the retirement of Ash Barty. Although she jumped up to the top spot by default, don’t count out the sheer talent of this Polish force.
Taking out the French Open in 2020 and 2022, and the US Open last year, she’s a bonafide champion who has earnt the spot that was once owned by our Aussie champion. At just 21 years old, Swiatek has quickly proved to the world that she’s the one to beat, and is planning on sticking around for years to come.
Many are predicting Swiatek will be there on the final day, and she’s proved she can beat the remaining top ten seeds of the WTA. Will she take out her first Australian Open Grand Slam?
1. Rafael Nadal
A man who needs zero introduction, and a favourite of the Aussie crowds, Rafael Nadal is back in what some are predicting could be his farewell tour, excuse us as we shed a tear.
That being said, you can never count out the champ, and Nadal is back to defend the title he lifted in 2022. The Spaniard has won an eye watering 92 career titles, held the Australian Open title twice, the French Open 14 times (what’s in the water over there?), Wimbledon twice and the US Open four times. Legend status doesn’t seem high enough for the blinding star that is Nadal.
We’ve loved watching him each year, there’s no better atmosphere than a packed beer garden or sports bar holding up a beer to toast the champion and this year will be no exception.
In an Australian Open that will look very different without the likes of Ash Barty, there’s still something so exciting about watching comebacks be made, legends of the sport go at it and some of the best quality talent in the world, live from your local.
Grab your mates to share a drink (and drop as many fun facts as you can on them), or head in for a quiet refresher, the Australian Open is always best watched at your local pub.
Where can I watch the Australian Open near me? Find your nearest pub right here.
Find out the full Australian Open schedule here.