• Mon. Mar 6th, 2023

Australia’s top-ranked player and a teenage hotshot considered Spain’s best prospect since Rafael Nadal are the first two commitments for the Kooyong Classic’s celebrated return next year.

Davis Cup hero Alex de Minaur and world No.4 Carlos Alcaraz will complete their Australian Open preparations at the original home of the grand slam in a major coup for the exhibition tournament.

The Kooyong Classic, which will run from January 10 to 12 at Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club, was last held in 2020, when the likes of Nick Kyrgios, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Maria Sharapova and Marin Cilic competed.

The Covid-19 pandemic sidelined the event for the past two years but tournament director Peter Johnston revealed in May it would be part of the 2023 Australian summer of tennis.

There is high expectation of a star-studded field after Johnston’s significant early splash with the confirmation of de Minaur and Alcaraz.

Sydney-born de Minaur is a six-time ATP Tour titlist, including winning the Atlanta Open for a second time a fortnight ago, has been as high as No.15 in the world and will make his debut at the Kooyong Classic.

“I am really looking forward to playing in the 2023 Kooyong Classic for the first time. It will be great

to play at the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club, which has such a rich history,” de Minaur said.

“It should be the perfect final preparation for the Australian Open.”

Alcaraz is the only teenager ranked in the top 20 and considered the sport’s next great player after a blistering start to his career.

The 19-year-old became the youngest player in the Open era last year to reach the US Open quarter-finals then reached the last eight at the French Open this season.

He also counts two Masters 1000 events among his four singles titles in 2022.

“It’s massive for the event, after a two-year break, to have both ‘The Demon’ and Carlos joining the tournament for the first time,” Johnston said.

“The Demon is on the threshold of achieving his highest career ranking … he is back in the top 20 and with virtually no ranking points to defend, he is looking to finish the year in the top 10.

“Meanwhile, at only 19 years of age, Alcaraz has had an incredible year already, reaching a ranking of world No.4 and winning four titles so far in Miami, Monte Carlo, Madrid and Barcelona.”

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