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Aussie Open 2023 — Djokovic is back, Nadal seeks No. 23 and Swiatek looks for another title

Aussie Open 2023 -- Djokovic is back, Nadal seeks No. 23 and Swiatek looks for another title

The return of Novak Djokovic. The quest for continued dominance by one of the sport’s brightest young stars in Iga Swiatek. The start of a brand-new season.

That’s right, it’s summertime Down Under and that means just one thing — it’s Australian Open time.

And needless to say, there is a lot going on at the “Happy Slam” this year.

Fresh off an incredible 2022 season, and blink-and-you’ll-miss-it offseason, the first major of the new year is upon us. Last year’s tournament saw more than its fair share of drama, starting with the deportation of Djokovic and ending with the unbelievable victories of Ashleigh Barty, who became the first Australian to win the tournament since 1978, and Rafael Nadal, who broke the record for most Grand Slam titles by a male player. Since then, Barty has retired from the sport and Nadal earned yet another major trophy in Paris but struggled with injuries later in the season.

Will Nadal do Nadal things and find a way to defend his title? Who will step up in the absence of the newly retired Serena Williams and Roger Federer to create global headlines and interest? Could Nick Kyrgios become the first Australian man to win at home in 47 years? Here are the players and storylines you need to know heading into the 2023 Australian Open.

Djokovic is back

It’s easy to forget that until recently Djokovic was called the “King of Melbourne,” thanks to his astonishing nine titles at the Australian Open. But then 2022 happened and, well, we’re not quite sure that nickname still holds.

Ahead of last year’s event, Djokovic found himself in the middle of a global firestorm and legal battle as a result of his unvaccinated status. He ultimately had his visa revoked and was deported from the country just hours before the main draw got underway. It was a debacle and dominated the first several days of the tournament. Initially it seemed as if Djokovic would be banned from entering Australia for three years, but he was granted a visa and started his season in Adelaide this month.

So now the question is: What can we expect from Djokovic? Despite playing a limited schedule in 2022 due to travel restraints, he still won Wimbledon, the ATP Finals and three other titles, and he opened 2023 with the title at…

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