The Young Players of the Australian Open 2023

The Young Players of the Australian Open 2023

The 2023 Australian Open was a tournament filled with passion, along with many inspiring and emotional moments. Top-seeded players unexpectedly lost to several young players of the game, in career-changing matches where they played their hearts and soul out.

One of the young players who notably shocked the world is Ben Shelton. The 20-year-old is ranked 41st in singles, and 282nd in doubles worldwide. Shelton started regularly playing tennis as a 12-year-old, and ever since, he has risen to stardom playing for the University Of Florida, contributing to the school’s win of the NCAA Singles Championship in 2022. 

This year, Shelton entered the tournament as an unseeded player with very low chances of winning at all. But despite being the underdog, he made it to the quarterfinals of the tournament. Along his journey through the tournament, he beat players such as 92nd ranked Zhang Zizhen, 139th ranked Nicolas Jerry, 84th ranked Alexi Popyrin and 39th ranked J.J Wolf, totaling 85 aces with a serve speed of 140 miles per hour. 

He responded to reporters saying,“It was unbelievable, kind of hard to describe. I definitely wouldn’t have thought that I would be here at this moment six months ago, four months ago.”

The second up and coming tennis player that shocked spectators is Mackenzie McDonald, a 27-year-old ranked 49th in singles, and 92nd in doubles worldwide. McDonald played at UCLA winning the 2016 NCAA Division I Tennis Championship in both singles and doubles. Although he only made it to the second round of the tournament, he defeated the first seeded player in the entire Australian Open, Rafael Nadal, dominating him in straight sets 6-4, 6-4 and 7-5, having 14 aces against him.  

“It’s better like this at the end,” Nadal said afterwards to CNN.  “I lost, nothing to say, congratulate my opponent. That’s the sport at the same time – just try your best until the end.” 

 Another talented young player on this list is Aryna Sabalanka, who is ranked second in singles and ranked 188th in doubles worldwide. She began playing tournaments in 2013, and ever since has taken off. In this year’s Australian Open, she was seeded fifth and ultimately won the entire tournament. Her toughest and final opponent, Elena Rybakina, was ranked 10th and had the fastest serve speed of 121.2 mph with the most aces in the entire tournament. Sabalenka fought her way through the match losing the first set 4-6, but came back more focused, winning points by having 17 aces and earning points from behind the baseline, winning 6-3 and 6-4. 

In response to her tremendous win, Sabalanka turned to her coaches and supporters saying, “We’ve been through a lot of downs. It’s more about you then it’s about me. It’s just the best day of my life right now.”