The countdown to the 2023 season is underway. As we close in on the start of the new, dual-gender United Cup (December 29), TENNIS.com's writers will debate the 10 biggest questions heading into the new tennis year.


Who will have the better season: Novak Djokovic or Carlos Alcaraz?

Jon Levey: When Djokovic is in control of his instrument, there still doesn’t seem to be anyone who can match his level. There’s also a sense that after being forced (by his own volition) to miss large chunks of last season, 2023 will be his revenge tour. Throw in history that says Alcaraz could be in line for a sophomore slump, and the scales tip favorably toward Djokovic. But little with Djokovic these last few years has gone to plan, and everything about Alcaraz defies convention. Both will win his share of important titles, but the Spaniard will put together the slightly better resume.


Ed McGrogan: These two are 16 years apart in age, but you could make the case that both are at the peak of their astonishing tennis powers. It seems like an eternity ago—B.A., Before Alcaraz—but Djokovic nearly completed the Grand Slam in 2021, and when once he actually started playing in 2022, he looked very much the same player. Alcaraz’s ascent was impressive in its own way, and he’s going to be a fixture in the Top 5 and in the late rounds of Slams. But Djokovic will be, too, at least in 2023. It feels crazy to say that Djokovic still has room to grow, but compared to his truncated past season, he does. I say the Serbian holds off the Spaniard, at least for this season.

HIGHLIGHTS: Alcaraz's win over Djokovic in Madrid topped our countdown of 2022's best matches


Stephanie Livaudais: As he navigates “the year after the big year”, a great season for the 19-year-old Spaniard would probably involve staying inside the ATP’s Top 5, reaching at least one Grand Slam final, and making his ATP Finals debut.

But for Djokovic’s standards, that barely counts as a decent season. Nothing less than Grand Slam glory, a return to the top of the rankings, and statement results at every tournament will do—especially after a frustrating, stop-start 2022 season.

Having had his every move scrutinized by everyone from social media bystanders to national governments, Djokovic will be eager to once again silence doubters. We’ve already seen it happen in 2022: Of the 14 tournaments Djokovic played, he reached seven finals and won five titles—including Wimbledon and ATP Finals trophies.

It’s possible, and very likely, that Alcaraz will indeed have a great season. But, based on everything we know about Djokovic and what he’s capable of when motivated, it’s more likely he might have one of the greatest seasons of his career.


Matt Fitzgerald: With everything he brings to the table, Alcaraz will no doubt clean up on the Grand Slam stage in good time. But as far as 2023 goes, how does one not lean towards Djokovic? After missing two majors and four Masters 1000 events, and, receiving zero points for winning Wimbledon, Djokovic still managed a Top 5 finish—capped by running the table at the ATP Finals.

After coming through a season like no other, 2023 feels like the Serbian’s year to make up for lost opportunities, and there’s probably no one in the sport who’s more driven—and equipped—to do that than Novak. On the flip side, Alcaraz will have the burden of backing up a career-changing season. Can Carlitos do that? Absolutely. Outpacing Djokovic over 11 months of uninterrupted competition, however, is an even bigger ask.