Alex de Minaur
Alex de Minaur makes his debut in the top 10. @alexdeminaur
The main event is yet again Novak Djokovic's quest for history. Jannik Sinner hopes to stand in his way, and homecourt advantage belongs to newly minted top-10er Alex de Minaur.

The 2024 Australian Open begins on January 14th. Here are the stories to watch.

Novak’s Final Hurdle

Keystone events in the timeline of life often have a way of winking poetically.

Novak Djokovic is trying to surpass tennis’s highest peak. He’s competing to win his 25th career major title, which would break his tie for the all-time lead with Margaret Court. Incidentally, it would also tie him for 11 Australian Open trophies with who else but Margaret Court, as well. They are officially intertwined.

Margaret Court is Australian.

And get this: center court in Melbourne is named after…Rod Laver.

Shoot. Margaret Court Arena is next door.

Okay, so the stars aren’t 100% perfectly aligned. He can’t break Margaret Court’s record on her own court. Still, it’s pretty close—literally—and it would be a beautiful way for him to do it.

Will she be in attendance if he reaches the finals? One assumes so. Maybe they could skip over to her court afterward for a ceremony to mark the occasion.

Getting it done in Australia would be poignant enough, especially given the fact that he will have won nearly half of his Grand Slams here (11 out of 25).

Special moments happen for special people who deserve them. The universe pays attention and sprinkles a little extra stardust in when these moments occur. So does Novak (see his tribute to Kobe Bryant after winning his 24th major a few months ago at the U.S. Open).

The storyline seems too perfect for it not to happen. Novak surely senses it as well, and he’ll draw motivation from it. He cherishes the deeper meanings in life.

If he does break it, then there won’t be any more high-profile mile markers in front of him to chase. He still wants to capture a Calendar Slam, something he’s been a single match away from achieving twice in the last three years. That’s not quite the same as chasing a record, though.

He’s certain to win his 100th career title this year, being only two titles away. He’s simply running out of things to chase.

Instead, he is becoming the thing that future generations will chase. After 25 majors, it will be all about widening the gap and loving the game.

But first he has to get there.

Rafael Nadal’s Comeback/Farewell Tour Interrupted Early

The tennis world has waited for nigh on a year to see Rafael Nadal back on the court. He’s been out with a hip injury since last year’s Aussie Open. In the interim, he proclaimed 2024 could likely be his final year on tour.

So when he returned to Brisbane two weeks ago, it was simultaneously the start of a comeback tour and a possible farewell tour.

It began remarkably with a dominant win over resurgent former Grand Slam champ Dominic Thiem, then paused two rounds later in a dramatic comeback win by local Australian Jordan Thompson.

The ovation Nadal received by the Brisbane fans was massive in volume and adoration. The fans are craving to see him again while dreading his departure, and they know this may be the last hurrah.

So fans worldwide, casual and hardcore alike, were gutted when he withdrew from the Australian Open shortly after that loss, citing a “micro tear” in his left thigh muscle, apparently unrelated to the hip injury he just returned from.

The injury doesn’t appear to be serious long-term, but it was bad enough to force him out of the Australian Open, a major blow to the tournament and what everyone hoped would be a full year of healthy, high-profile competition for him on the sport’s biggest stages.

His focus now becomes a healthy French Open campaign, which will matter more to him than anything else as he ventures closer to the sunset.

Is this Jannik Sinner’s Moment?

Jannik Sinner closed out 2023 with more momentum than anyone else. He picked up titles in Beijing, Vienna, and the Davis Cup, bagging a litany of wins against top-10 players along the way, including three against Novak Djokovic in less than two weeks (two in singles and one in doubles).

Coach Darren Cahill is working his magic yet again. Since joining his team, Sinner’s results have skyrocketed, and it feels like they’re just getting started.

Sinner is up to world No. 4, and nobody in the top 3 wants to play him. Nobody outside the top 3 wants to play him, either. His groundstrokes are devastating. He’s long and tall, and is building an intelligent game for himself that is designed to win majors.

Consistency, accuracy, power, patience, air-tight defense, well-timed offense, and above all self-belief.

Djokovic already had an Alcaraz problem to contend with. Now he has a Sinner problem, too.

Do the ‘roos like carrots in Australia? It might be time to find out.

Homecourt Contenders

The good news for the happy-go-rowdy hometown Aussie crowd is that they have a whopping fifteen players in the field, which accounts for fully 12% of the draw. That’s the most Aussies in the field since 1998.

And in Alex de Minaur they have a top-10er surging into their national tournament with a real chance to crack a few eggs.

The bad news is that the drop-off after that is steep. Great Barrier Reef drop-off steep.

With only one true contender, the Aussies who want to see some local boys compete need to go cheer in the early rounds. It’ll thin out like Vegemite on toast mighty quick.

#10 Alex de Minaur

The top Aussie and new world No. 10 comes in blazing hot, having reeled off three consecutive top-10 wins in the United Cup against then No. 10 Taylor Fritz, No. 1 Novak Djokovic (in straights), and No. 7 (now 6) Alexander Zverev.

In five days.

Folks, say what you will about The United Cup and how serious the players take it. A win is a win, and top-10 players never play to lose. Those matches came with ranking points, thrusting de Minaur into the top 10 for the first time in his career, a landmark achievement for any tennis player. Good on ya.

He’ll be brimming with confidence in a tricky first round match against Milos Raonic, likely followed by a clash with young Italian Matteo Arnaldi, a future top-20 guy who will be no pushover. Pass those tests and Rublev and Sinner await in the deeper rounds.

It is not an easy draw, so he’ll need to ride the wave of momentum he’s on and leverage his home crowds. Have a crack, mate.


Australia has a handful of guys who run well in the middle of the pack.

Thanasi Kokkinakis is always a tough out, and Jordan Thompson will try to capitalize on the confidence gained from his victory over Nadal in Brisbane. He’ll face off against countryman Aleksandar Vukic in the first round.

Others who will delight the crowds are Christopher O’Connell, Alexei Popyrin, and Max Purcell.

Wildcards and Qualifiers

Tennis Australia dished out six wild cards to Aussies, and two men made it through qualifiers.

Anything beyond R1 will be a thrill for them, and at least a few will feed on the fun-loving home crowds to get it done. Have fun, boys! Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!

Five Best First Round Matchups

30 Tomas Etcheverry vs. Andy Murray

20 Adrian Mannarino vs. Stan Wawrinka

16 Ben Shelton vs. Roberto Bautista Agut

7 Stefanos Tsitsipas vs. Matteo Berrettini

27 Felix Auger-Aliassime vs. Dominic Thiem

Dark Horse

31 Alexander Bublik


1 Novak Djokovic vs. 6 Alexander Zverev


1 Novak Djokovic