There was no champagne courtside. So, as Matteo Berrettini embraced Jannik Sinner after Sinner’s victory over Alex de Minaur final month to clinch Italy’s first Davis Cup title in 47 years, their teammate, Matteo Arnaldi, did the following neatest thing: He shook a water bottle and poured it over Sinner and Berrettini.
Sinner, 22, ended the season together with his twentieth win in his final 23 matches. This 12 months, he had a 64-15 report, received 4 tournaments, reached the semifinals at Wimbledon and was runner-up on the ATP Finals in Turin, Italy. He had wins over the three top-ranked gamers — Novak Djokovic, whom he beat twice in two weeks, Carlos Alcaraz and Daniil Medvedev. Starting 2023 at No. 15, he ended it at No. 4.
Djokovic sorely needed to guide Serbia to only its second Davis Cup title. But within the semifinals, he fell to Sinner after squandering three match factors after which teamed with Miomir Kecmanovic to lose the deciding doubles match to Sinner and Lorenzo Sonego. The loss despatched Italy into the ultimate, the place it beat Australia.
Djokovic was devastated by the defeat.
“For me, personally, it’s a huge disappointment because I take the responsibility, obviously having three match points, being so close to win it,” he stated after the match. “When you lose for your country, you know, the bitter feeling is even greater.”
It is ironic that the season started and ended with thrilling conclusions on the males’s and ladies’s staff competitions. The Davis Cup and the Billie Jean King Cup have been below siege lately as most of the recreation’s prime gamers, together with Alcaraz, Taylor Fritz, Iga Swiatek, Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula, shunned the traditionally heart-thumping, pride-producing finals due to scheduling conflicts. The U.S. girls misplaced early within the finals, and the U.S. males didn’t even qualify as one of many prime eight groups.
Still, regardless of the participant defections and a merry-go-round of format modifications, each competitions offered among the most hanging moments of the 12 months.
Leylah Fernandez rode a wave of patriotic ardour, successful 5 matches to guide Canada to its first Billie Jean King Cup. Her teammate, then-18-year-old Marina Stakusic, who had by no means received a WTA Tour match, grew to become an in a single day star when she received three matches towards opponents ranked within the prime 70.
If 2022 was billed because the season of King Carlos when Alcaraz went from No. 32 to No. 1 on the energy of his U.S. Open championship, then this season largely belonged to Djokovic.
He is taken into account by many within the recreation as the best participant ever. The statistics show it.
At 36, Djokovic had probably the greatest seasons of his profession. For the third time since 2015, he reached the finals in any respect 4 majors, falling simply shy of achieving the Grand Slam.
In January, a 12 months after being faraway from Australia due to his refusal to be vaccinated towards Covid-19, Djokovic returned to Melbourne Park and captured a report tenth Australian Open title by defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas within the remaining. With the 14-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal injured for many of the season, Djokovic received his third French Open in June by beating Alcaraz and Casper Ruud.
After falling to Alcaraz in a scintillating five-set Wimbledon remaining, Djokovic bounced again and beat Medvedev on the U.S. Open to earn his twenty fourth main, surpassing Serena Williams. He is now only one win away from breaking the lads’s and ladies’s main report held by Margaret Court for 50 years.
In all, Djokovic performed simply 12 tournaments in 2023 and he received seven of them. He didn’t lose from mid-July till mid-November, when he fell to Sinner in the course of the round-robin portion of the ATP Finals. He then beat Sinner within the remaining after assuring the year-end No. 1 rating for a record-extending eighth time.
Alcaraz, who received six titles in 2023 on three totally different surfaces and reached the semifinals on the French and U.S. Opens, along with his Wimbledon win, ended the 12 months ranked No. 2. But he was candid after he misplaced to Djokovic within the semifinals in Turin.
“I am not at his level on an indoor court,” Alcaraz, 20, stated in November. “He has shown why he is the best player in the world. I have to practice more to be a better player.”
With his 66 wins, Medvedev led the ATP in match victories. He received 19 straight, and reached the finals at Indian Wells and the Miami Open, which he received. He additionally received at Rome and reached the semifinals at Wimbledon and was runner-up to Djokovic on the U.S. Open. He ended the 12 months ranked No. 3.
Two upstart gamers — the Americans Ben Shelton and Chris Eubanks — used their large grins and whopping forehands to envelop the game in a large bear hug. Shelton, about two years away from main the University of Florida to an N.C.A.A. championship, reached the quarterfinals on the Australian Open. He then reached the semifinals on the U.S. Open earlier than falling to Djokovic. Eubanks, one other former collegian, upset Cameron Norrie and Tsitsipas to succeed in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon.
There was no scarcity of compelling story strains among the many girls. Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka spent the season battling for tour supremacy.
Sabalenka, solely a 12 months faraway from serving woes so extreme that she resorted to serving underhand throughout matches, received her first main on the Australian Open, a day she known as the “best of my life.” She grabbed the No. 1 rating after reaching the U.S. Open remaining.
“It was amazing to see Sabalenka, who was basically laughed off that same court a year earlier, confront those demons and take responsibility,” Lindsay Davenport, three-time main winner and former No. 1, stated by phone final month.
Swiatek took her third French Open and received six titles. But she faltered at each Wimbledon and the U.S. Open earlier than regrouping by the WTA Finals, snatching the year-end No. 1 from Sabalenka by beating her and Pegula to take the title. Pegula, for her half, was one in all simply two gamers, together with No. 4 Elena Rybakina, to notch a number of wins over Swiatek this season.
Marketa Vondrousova, who endured lengthy stretches away from the sport due to two wrist surgical procedures, grew to become the primary unseeded girls’s Wimbledon winner when she beat Ons Jabeur within the remaining.
But it was Gauff and her wise-beyond-her-years perspective who transcended the game in a manner that solely Williams has accomplished. When Gauff, 19, beat Sabalenka in three units to win the U.S. Open, the nontennis world, together with the previous first woman Michelle Obama, went wild. In her acceptance speech, Gauff, who had struggled early within the season, addressed her doubters.
“Thank you to the people who didn’t believe in me,” Gauff stated. “To those who thought they were putting water on my fire, you were really adding gas to it.”
It was the sort of daring assertion that left even former main winners surprised. One of them was Davenport, who admitted to having tears run down her face whereas she did match commentary on tv.
“To me, the story of the year was Coco,” Davenport stated. “Players come along once in a generation. When you have all the expectations on you at 12 and 15 years old and you are able to handle everything and then elevate your game to win, then you really are truly something special.”