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Matt Ebden emulates Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde in 26-year first for Aussie tennis

Australia has a new World No.1 in men's doubles.

Matt Ebden, Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde.
Matt Ebden has emulated Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde. Image: Getty

Matt Ebden has become the first Australian male tennis player to reach World No.1 in doubles in 34 years. The 36-year-old climbed to the top of the ATP double rankings when they were updated on Monday, updating partner Rohan Bopanna - with whom he won the Australian Open title in January.

Ebden and Bopanna began their partnership last season, but have wasted little time surging to the top of men's doubles. Bopanna became World No.1 after their Australian Open triumph, but Ebden has now swapped places with him.

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In doing so, Ebden has become just the fifth Australian man to reach World No.1 in doubles - joining Paul McNamee, John Fitzgerald, Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde. It's the first time an Australian has been top of the men's doubles rankings since Woodbridge and Woodforde both spent time in the No.1 spot in 1998.

“It's quite surreal. I thought even that list of Australians who had been No.1 in doubles would have been a longer list,” Ebden told the ATP website. “There were a few guys I guess, who were No.2 or 3 or guys who had won grand slams like (John) Newcombe and (Tony) Roche and Peter McNamara and a lot of other guys, but never quite reached No.1. So it's quite a small, esteemed list. I'm incredibly honoured to be a part of that list and to be starting to win multiple grand slams now.”

Rohan Bopanna and Matt Ebden at the Australian Open.
Rohan Bopanna and Matt Ebden won the Australian Open doubles title. (AFP via Getty Images)

Ebden, who turned his attention to playing doubles full-time in 2020, won the Wimbledon title with compatriot Max Purcell in 2022. But in 43-year-old Bopanna he has found a partner who also plays doubles full-time. Purcell, 25, is forging a career as a singles player as well and is currently World No.41.

“I think it's truly deserved for Matt to become World No.1,” Bopanna said. “Both of us reaching that would not have happened without each other's support. On court he brings the calmness and solidarity which helps us as a team and helps me bring out my aggressive style of play, also. Congratulations to Matt for achieving the World No.1 ranking.”

Ebden added: “For me to tick over this week to No.1 outright in the rankings, it's obviously been a lot of hard work and sacrifice. But I'm just grateful it's happened relatively quickly these past two, three years, winning slams, and getting to No.1 on my doubles journey.”

Matt Ebden's brave decision to focus on doubles

The Australian veteran made it as high as No.39 in his singles career, but turned his full focus to doubles when he slipped outside the top 200. “I knew the way I played tennis translated really well onto the doubles court,” Ebden said. “In the back of my mind, I sort of thought at the end of my career, I might have another little sub-career of five years or more where I could really have a crack at just doubles, and really focus on it, and try and do some great things and try and win some slams. I don't even know if I thought about getting to World No.1 then. It’s a bit of a pipe dream, that sort of thing, even winning slams.”

It's been a remarkable week for Australian tennis, with Jordan Thompson surging to a career-high singles ranking of 32. Thompson broke through for his first ATP title after 11 years on tour when he beat Casper Ruud in the final of the Los Cabos Open.

Australians to reach World No.1 in men's doubles:

  • Paul McNamee - 1981 (three weeks at No.1)

  • John Fitzgerald - 1991 (40 weeks at No.1)

  • Todd Woodbridge - 1992 (205 weeks at No.1)

  • Mark Woodforde - 1992 (84 career weeks at No.1)

  • Matt Ebden - 2024

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