As we consider ATP Top 10 Projections for 2023, a major theme arches over this tour right now. It happens to be a good one. Even with the retirement of Roger Federer– and the advancing ages of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic– the ATP Tour is well-positioned to remain wildly popular. This is due in part to the arrival of several major marketable male players in 2022.
The talent materialized. The breaks were consolidated, if you will. The engaging and electric Carlos Alcaraz won a Grand Slam and climbed to number one in the world. Holger Rune got the better of Djokovic on a hard court. Taylor Fritz drew blood by beating Nadal in a Masters 1000 final.
The ATP Tour needs to maintain its momentum in 2023 and not blow it all up the way professional golf has.
With that in mind, here is my ATP Top 10 projection for 2023, in descending order.
10. Nick Kyrgios. Go bold or go home, baby. I had to do something offbeat with this. Look– he’s got the best serve in the sport, possibly ever. Aspects of his life seem to be settling down (even if other problems remain). One thing’s for certain: Kyrgios has shown he can hang with the best in the world. He figured out this year that time in the gym actually pays off. Since Kyrgios claims he wants to play Roland Garros in 2023, I say he can cobble together enough points to punch into the ATP Top 10.
9. Alexander Zverev. With an entire half of a calendar with no points to defend, I think this perennial Top 10er will gain steam in the later part of 2023 and reemerge. Still healing and training after his major ankle injury, the German wisely decided to take the rest of this year off. And we know from other top stars that time off can actually pay off. That sublime backhand will be back, rest assured.
8. Rafael Nadal. He ain’t done yet, folks. A source who has spent time with Rafa in Majorca recently says the 22-time Grand Slam Champion has no plans to retire in 2023– even if he wins a galactic 15th French Open. As long as Nadal is playing on the ATP Tour, he will contend. We don’t bet against Rafa.
7. Daniil Medvedev. 2022 was a down year for Meddy, and I believe he will rebound next year with another Top 10 finish. But his competition will be stiffer than it was when he was briefly number one in the world. He said he expects more of himself, and he has the determination to do that. What does he need to do? Get to the net more to take advantage of his height, speed and range. He knows it.
6. Matteo Berrettini. This is a controversial pick, because having this appealing Italian in my projected ATP Top 10 for 2023 means that Andrey Rublev and Holger Rune get bumped out (more below). I have faith in both Berrettini’s chill on-court demeanor as well as the Italian Federation’s oomph in the coaching ranks. Berrettini’s weakness is his backhand, and I believe he will work to fix it as well as hone his strength– which is the plus-one forehand. Malto bello.
5. Felix Auger-Aliassime. Much like Coco Gauff on the women’s side, FAA’s trajectory has been steady and incremental. But this is the year I see him plateauing a bit. Very few great players’ rise is V-shaped. Sometimes it flattens out for a season. His forehand, movement, serve and net skills are still elite. He could use some minor work on the mental side, which might tip the balance for him on pivotal points like break point and break point against.
4. Stefanos Tsitsipas. Stef is getting unbelievably close to beating Djokovic, and I believe he will break through in 2023. The more players try to torch the Greek’s one-handed backhand, the more practiced and better it gets. The backhand slice is coming along, and he continues to improve and develop his net game. My crystal ball sees more serve and volley, even. Fans are constantly picking at Tsitsipas over everything from his service motion to his dad in the player box… And yet Tsitsipas just keeps winning.
3. Taylor Fritz. This player has the goods, and America is beyond ready for another major tennis superstar. Fritz embodies a Gen Z athlete, who is not afraid to speak his truth. Knowing he’s a gamer, I had my doubts about whether Fritz had the discipline to build points on the court. But this year he made major strides by winning Indian Wells and contending at Wimbledon. His first serve is crushing. At 51% second serve points won, I’m sure his eminently solid coaching staff will work to bump that up even more with some creativity and different approaches.
2. Carlos Alcaraz. He’s still only 19, folks. Even if he’s expending more energy than he needs to by grinding out long points and playing multiple tournaments, he’s nowhere near ready to slow down. Look at Alcaraz’s tats and try to find a glaring problem. There is none. Perhaps most impressively, he wins well over half of the points on his opponents’ second serves. Don’t feed Carlos a return he can attack, people! But they still will.
1. Novak Djokovic. Novak until proven otherwise. The Serbian global superstar will be motivated and on a mission to catch Nadal in the Grand Slam tally and reestablish his dominance after not being eligible to play multiple tournaments in 2022. Djokovic finished 2022 on fire with a win at the ATP Finals, and I believe he will carry that momentum into Melbourne. His serve has never looked better, and he’s healthy. Look out, field!
To sum up: Alcaraz showed up buff to start the year. Who will follow his playbook? Which players will hit the gym and put in the reps. And even more important than that, which of these ATP stars will manage his calendar perfectly so as not to burn himself out over the long season?
Rune and Andrey Rublev were left off my ATP Projection for 2024. It was a tough leave. I think Rune might experience a bit of a sophomore slump as well as some backlash over his brashness. He still has the talent to finish high, though. Rublev needs to add dimension to his game, and I believe he will. But some of these skills take a few seasons to become mainstays in the toolbox.
Please join me on social media to give me your thoughts and tell me if you agree or disagree.