Australian Open: when it’s on, where to watch and why Novak Djokovic is chasing history

The first tennis grand slam of the year is attracting more attention for who isn’t playing, than who is

What’s happening in tennis?

The Australian Open begins in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on Monday, January 16th. It is the first of the four Grand Slam tennis majors held each year, preceding the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open.

Where can we watch?

Eurosport and streaming on Discovery+.

What is the tournament worth?

The champion earns $1,998,278 (US) and if you win one match you take away $106,698.

What is the field like?

This year’s Open is almost better known for who will not be taking part, than who will be. Naomi Osaka, the two-time champion pulled out and will miss the entire 2023 season having announcing her pregnancy on social media. The 25-year-old Osaka hasn’t played since September, during which time her world ranking has slipped to 47. Her Instagram message announcing the pregnancy mentioned that she fully intended to be back in action for the 2024 version of the tournament.


Another absentee will be Serena Williams, who stepped away from the game last year, and big sis Venus, who was scheduled to play but pulled out. On the men’s side of the draw, Spain’s world number one, Carlos Alcaraz withdrew from the competition with a leg injury.

Who is the main attraction then?

Because of the Alcaraz withdrawal, compatriot Rafa Nadal, the defending champion, has been bumped up to the position of top seed in the men’s side. Novak Djokovic is the fourth seed, which means he cannot meet Rafa before the semi-final. And it’s Djokovic, who was deported from Australia last year, that is grabbing the headlines. The 21-times Grand Slam winner said he forgives but can’t forget the deportation ordeal, which arose because of his refusal to be vaccinated. Nick Kyrgios, the sport’s biggest anti-hero and last year’s Wimbledon finalist, is also expected to energise the home crowd.

How many Irish are in the field?

Sadly, no Irish players are in the draw. Not since Louk Sorensen’s 6-4 3-6 6-2 6-1 victory over Lu Yen-hsun of Chinese Taipei in 2010 has an Irish player competed in Melbourne. Sorensen’s advance to the second round made him the first Irish player to win a match at a grand slam event since the 1980s.

Betting (Paddy Power)

Iga Swiatek is the favourite in a tight women’s field. There is not much between the top three or four women players with Novak Djokovic (10-11) the heavy favourite for the men’s title. And why not – the Serb has already won in Melbourne nine times before.

Women’s singles winner: Iga Swiatek 15-8; Aryna Sabalenka 17-2; Caroline Garcia 10-1; Ons Jabeur 11-1; Jessica Pegula 11-1; Coco Gauf 13-1; Elena Rabakina 17-1.

Men’s singles winner: Novak Djokovic 10-11; Daniil Medvedev 11-2; Rafa Nadal 13-1; Nick Kyrgios 13-1; Stefanos Tsitsipas 16-1; Felix Auger Aliassime 17-1.

What is really at stake?

If Djokovic wins the title, he will join Nadal on a record 22 Grand Slam wins. Currently on 21 titles, one ahead of Roger Federer, who retired last year, the next 12 months is probably Djokovic’s best chance to draw level with Nadal. Djokovic is 35-years-old and Nadal 36-years-old.


“I was really happy for him [Messi] that he was able to finally win the World Cup when he was seen as not having done it at international level. The age that he’s at as well – he’s 35 and born in the same year as me. Seeing any athletes in their mid-to-late 30s going out there and competing and performing and doing what they love is brilliant.” – Former Grand Slam champion Andy Murray reflecting on what the twilight of a career can bring