The best-of-five-set format at the Grand Slams lends itself to twist-filled matches as the world’s best compete on our sport’s biggest stages. The four majors of 2023 offered memorable matchups, packed with quality and drama from start to finish.
As we continue to look back at the 2023 season, ATPTour.com selects the five best Grand Slam matches of the year.
5) Wimbledon, R1, Tsitsipas v. a Thiem 3-6, 7-6(1), 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-6(10-8)
A rollercoaster match played over two days at Wimbledon culminated in a dramatic tie-break in the final set, the outcome hanging on a knife’s edge until the last ball of the three-hour, 55-minute duel.
Stefanos Tsitsipas was trailing a set overnight and struggling midway through the second when the match was suspended due to lack of light. But the Greek took control after the restart, only to see Dominic Thiem counterattack. After Thiem saved a break point early in the fourth set, he won a tense tie-break and then, for a brief moment, appeared to have secured a break point advantage in the fifth. But a precise override from the chair umpire prevented Thiem from taking a 4-3 lead, and Tsitsipas finally closed out a brave victory with a forehand on his third match point.
“It was pretty stressful, I won’t lie. We were out there for, I don’t know how many hours… for a second I thought we were doing the Isner-Mahut replay,” Tsitsipas said after leveling the pair’s Lexus ATP Head2Head at 5-5. We both fought hard today. We put on a show. I hope everyone enjoyed it.”
It was the second consecutive match (and third of the last four) between the opponents that required a decisive tiebreaker. Tsitsipas had also taken that path to win earlier in the season in Madrid and in the title match at the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals.
Foto: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
4) US Open, R4, Zverev v. a Sinner 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3
The longest match of the 2023 US Open ended at 1:39 am with Alexander Zverev still standing after an impressive victory. In a four hour and 41 minute battle of attrition played in high humidity conditions, Jannik Sinner battled cramps in the second and third sets but still put on an impressive display to drag his opponent to fifth.
With penalty plays to even the penalty conditions, both players visibly struggled between points, but made a supreme effort when the ball was in play. Sinner was firmly on the rise in the fourth set, looking the fresher of the two until Zverev rallied down the stretch. In a high-quality final set, Zverev’s big swings produced 14 winners to Sinner’s seven, guiding him to a memorable triumph.
“I guess I can say I’m back, right? “This is what I live for, this is what I love to do,” said Zverev, who missed the second half of 2022, including the US Open, with a serious ankle injury. “I wish I could have played a little shorter, that’s for sure, but last year when I couldn’t play, those were exactly the moments I missed: playing until 1:30 a.m. in front of a packed crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium . There is nothing better”.
For Sinner, it was a second straight, heartbreaking loss late at night in New York. In 2022, the Italian lost a five-hour, 15-minute marathon to eventual champion Carlos Alcaraz that finished at a record time of 2:50 a.m.
Photo: Corey Sipkin/AFP via Getty Images
3) Abierto de Australia, R4, Rublev v. a Rune 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(11-9)
The fifth set of this Melbourne thriller could have been the most dramatic in tennis this season, with Andrey Rublev fighting back from the deep on multiple occasions to advance to the Australian Open quarter-finals for the second time, at the expense of Holger Rune.
In the last set of the confrontation between both members of the Top-10, Rublev lost 2-5, had two match points against him at 5-6 and found himself in a 0/5 hole in the decisive tie-break. It was Rune’s turn to save two match points later in the tie-break, before a ball hit the net and ended the match in Rublev’s favor.
“I have never been able to win matches like this in my life,” said Rublev, who won 12 of 13 points to erase a 2-5 deficit in the final set. “This is the first time I’ve won something like this, especially in a very special tournament, the Australian Open, to be in the quarterfinals. So it’s something I’ll remember for sure all my life. I have no words. “I am shaking and happy.”
While both players demonstrated great hitting and world-class shots throughout the match, neither could maintain their best long enough to pull away. It looked like Rublev would do just that when Rune started cramping at the start of the fourth set, but the Dane kept going and finally found his best form early in the fifth. But in a match full of twists and turns, there would be much more, with Rublev winning by a very narrow margin.
2) Australian Territory, R1, Murray v. to Berrettini 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-7(7), 7-6(10-6)
This first-round matchup between five-time Melbourne finalist Andy Murray and 2022 semi-finalist Matteo Berrettini set a high bar from the start of the Grand Slam season. The four-hour, 49-minute triumph also started Murray’s trend toward playing marathons in 2023, as the three-time Grand Slam champion won several long-term matches during the early stages of the season.
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In Melbourne, Murray attacked Berrettini’s backhand early and often to build a two sets to nil lead, but the Italian found the poise to respond. Berrettini rose to the occasion in the fourth set tie-break, playing his best tennis to stop Murray when the Scot twice came within two points of victory. But the 13th seed’s backhand missed a match point at 5-4 in the fifth and set the stage for Murray’s resurgence.
The Brit raced to a 5/0 lead in the decisive tiebreaker and never looked back, finally achieving his first win against a Top 20 player at a Grand Slam since 2017.
“I’ve worked hard over the last few months with my team to give myself the opportunity to perform in stadiums like this and in games like this against players like Matteo, and it paid off tonight,” said Murray, who had never played a game before. break of 10 points.
How close was this game down the stretch? After Berrettini secured his only break to lead 3-2 in the third set, there were no further breaks during the match on Rod Laver Arena.
1) Wimbledon, Final, Alcaraz v. and Djokovic 1-6, 7-6(6), 6-1, 3-6, 6-4
A month after what promised to be an epic Roland Garros semi-final was derailed when Carlos Alcaraz suffered a cramp, the Spanish star met Novak Djokovic once again in the final stretch of a Grand Slam, this time at Wimbledon. Although Alcaraz entered the Parisian clay as a favorite, the statistics said that Djokovic had an advantage in London, where he was seeking his fifth consecutive title.
The Serbian was also looking to continue his quest for the calendar year’s Grand Slam, having won the Australian Open and Roland Garros to open the season. He was on his way to what would have been his eighth Wimbledon title after a one-sided first set, but when Alcaraz saved a set point before winning the second set tie-break, the character of the match changed dramatically.
“After the first set I thought: ‘Carlos, raise the level, everyone will be disappointed,’” recalls the 20-year-old, who was only playing his fourth tournament on grass. He did manage to raise his level in the third set, but Djokovic showed his legendary determination to force a decider.
Immediately after fighting off a break point early in the final set with tenacious defending, Alcaraz earned the decisive break in the next game.
“Incredible, what quality at the end of the match,” Djokovic told his opponent during the trophy presentation ceremony. “When you had to serve, you made great serves and great plays, so you deserve it, absolutely. Congratulations”.
Foto: Julian Finney/Getty Images
Read all the stories in our Best of 2023 review