Australian Open 2023 men's preview: Novak Djokovic tries for 10th title in return to Melbourne

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 13: Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates a point against Nick Kyrgios of Australia in an Arena Showdown charity match ahead of the 2023 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 13, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo credit should read Chris Putnam/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
Novak Djokovic is looking to catch Rafael Nadal in the Grand Slam history books. (Chris Putnam/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

The 2023 Australian Open will kick off what stands to be a dynamite tennis season for the men's tour. Roger Federer is retired, and the official era of the "Big Three" is in the past, but there's more than enough talent and drama to go around.

The biggest news — for American tennis fans, at least — is that men's tennis players from America have a chance to make it through the very late rounds. Taylor Fritz reached his first Grand Slam quarterfinal at Wimbledon 2022 and cracked the ATP top 10 by the end of the year. Frances Tiafoe wowed the world with his magical run to the US Open semifinals, and 20-year-old Ben Shelton, who was in college this time last year, is ready to impress in his first full year on the tour.

The last American man to win the Australian Open was Andre Agassi in 2003. This could be the year that changes.

When is the 2023 Australian Open?

The 2023 Australian Open begins Monday and runs through Jan. 29.

The men's quarterfinals begin Jan. 23, and the men's semifinals will be played Jan. 26 and 27. The men's singles final will be played Jan. 29 at 3:30 am ET.

Who won't be at the Australian Open?

Sadly, the world No. 1 will not be in Melbourne. Carlos Alcaraz sustained a leg injury while training in early January and was forced to withdraw. Since he's not playing, his No. 1 ranking could be wrested away from him if either Novak Djokovic or Stefanos Tsitsipas win the title or if Casper Ruud wins or makes the finals (as long as Tsitsipas doesn't beat him).

Australian Open men's seeds

  1. Rafael Nadal

  2. Casper Ruud

  3. Stefanos Tsitsipas

  4. Novak Djokovic

  5. Andrey Rublev

  6. Felix Auger-Aliassime

  7. Daniil Medvedev

  8. Taylor Fritz

  9. Holger Rune

  10. Hubert Hurkacz

  11. Cameron Norrie

  12. Alexander Zverev

  13. Matteo Berrettini

  14. Pablo Carreno Busta

  15. Jannik Sinner

  16. Frances Tiafoe

Players to watch

Rafael Nadal

Is Nadal ageless? This year, we'll find out. He's 36, plagued by injury and hasn't looked great in the handful of matches he has played since withdrawing from Wimbledon last year. But he's still Rafa, and he's not finished until he says he is. A year ago, he was the surprise winner in Melbourne, and five months after that, he won an unthinkable 14th French Open title. Injuries might have slowed him down, but they haven't stopped him — yet.

Novak Djokovic

Djokovic has avoided deportation from Australia (unlike last year) and is starting 2023 off hot. In six tournaments since September, he made the finals in one and won four others. Last year was weird for Djokovic, but he managed to win Wimbledon despite missing significant time due to COVID-19 vaccine travel restrictions. Now he's focused on chasing down Nadal's record of 22 Grand Slam victories. He needs one to tie and one more to stand alone in the history books.

Casper Ruud

Ruud might've had the quietest great season in all of tennis in 2022. He made the finals in two Grand Slams, fighting through stacked fields to come up just a little short against Nadal at the French Open and Alcaraz at the US Open. He announced himself as a contender in a big way in 2022 and will seek to match or improve on his career-best fourth-round finish.

Taylor Fritz

Fritz broke through in 2022 and finally sits in the top 10 as the highest-ranked American men's singles player. He's the best hope for an American champion, which hasn't been seen at the Australian Open since 2003. His best finish at the Australian Open came last year, with a fourth-round exit.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 08: Frances Tiafoe of the United States competes in the finals match against Lorenzo Musetti of Italy during day eleven of the 2023 United Cup at Ken Rosewall Arena on January 8, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Steve Christo - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
American Frances Tiafoe has +6600 odds of winning the Australian Open, per BetMGM oddsmakers. (Photo by Steve Christo - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

Frances Tiafoe

Tiafoe is ready to take on the world. The 24-year-old American harnessed his talent in 2022 and closed out the Grand Slam season with a blistering run to the US Open semifinals. He has gone far at the Aussie Open before — a quarterfinal finish in 2019 — but consistency has always been an issue with him. Will we see the new and improved Tiafoe in Melbourne?

Nick Kyrgios

Editor's note: Kyrgios withdrew from the tournament early Monday morning, citing a knee injury.

2022 was Kyrgios' year. He finally figured out how to channel his famously outsized personality, and it led to a huge improvement. He came in second to Djokovic at Wimbledon and made it to the quarterfinals at the US Open. Both were career-best finishes by far, and if he can stay focused, 2023 could be even bigger.

Ben Shelton

At 20 years old, Shelton is in his first full season on tour and is traveling to the Australian Open as part of his first trip outside the U.S. He earned his spot by upsetting Ruud, in the midst of a breakout season, in the second round of a Masters 1000 event. The 2022 SEC Player of the Year decided to forgo his college eligibility, finish his finance degree online and join the ATP tour. He's greener than green but worth keeping an eye on.

Australian Open 2023 men's odds

The absence of Carlos Alcaraz tremendously helps Djokovic's odds. He's the favorite to win despite having won just one Grand Slam in 2022 and been absent for two others (his nine previous Australian Open titles probably don't hurt).

  • Novak Djokovic -120

  • Daniil Medvedev +600

  • Rafael Nadal +1400

  • Stefanos Tsitsipas +1400

  • Nick Kyrgios +1600

All odds courtesy of BetMGM.

How to watch the 2023 Australian Open

ESPN has the broadcast rights to the 2023 Australian Open. Since Melbourne is 16 hours ahead of the Eastern time zone, match coverage and in-studio analysis will begin on ESPN or ESPN2 around 7-9 p.m. ET.

Full court coverage will be available on ESPN+ and can be watched live or replayed later.