There’s little point arguing if 2023 was Nicolas Jarry’s best-ever season. The Chilean broke the top 20 (and actually finished the year in there as well), picked up his second and third ATP Tour titles, reached a personal best at every Slam, and was much more competitive off-clay on the main circuit. This season review will be more focused on the highlights of his campaign as there’s very little on the opposite end of the spectrum.
Golden Swing breakthrough
After his 11-month doping ban at the beginning of 2020, Jarry made a strong return to tennis which made you think he’d be back on the ATP Tour in no time. That never came to be, and for two years, the Chilean was more or less around the 150th spot in the rankings, grabbing two Challenger titles but not threatening to find himself in the top 100 again. The stabilization at that level came as a surprise, but also made it easy to expect something in that tone in 2023.
Despite a solid run at the Australian Open (second round from qualifying), even in early February, there wasn’t much to suggest this season was going to be any different for Jarry. Just before the ATP 500 event in Rio de Janeiro, he lost in the first round of qualifying in Buenos Aires to Felipe Meligeni Alves. Somehow, that was the turning point. The Chilean demolished five opponents in a row in Rio (including Sebastian Baez and Lorenzo Musetti) and was only stopped by Carlos Alcaraz 6-7 7-5 6-0, going toe-to-toe with him off the baseline for two hours.
The last event of the Golden Swing was Jarry’s hometown tournament in Santiago. The 28-year-old had never picked up a single win there but this time scored perhaps the most emotional triumph of his career, taking the title with four consecutive deciding set wins. That was his second ATP Tour trophy and the first one since Bastad 2019.
One more peak around Roland Garros
Jarry didn’t even compete at the Sunshine Double, taking some time off after Santiago and returning for the European clay season. The early results didn’t make you believe he was going to become such a consistent player now and his first-round exits at Madrid and Rome were pretty disappointing. But the altitude clay in Geneva brought the best out of him again (he had previously lost the final there in a thriller against Alexander Zverev in 2019). This time, he took out Zverev in the semifinals (and Casper Ruud the round before), picking up his third ATP Tour title.
Despite all his clay expertise, Jarry was yet to win a match at the French Open, but we’ve already established this was a season of milestones for the Chilean. He defeated Hugo Dellien, Tommy Paul, and Marcos Giron to make the second week of a Slam for the very first time, before running into Ruud again after just eleven days. The Norwegian was better on that occasion and won in straights, although Jarry had a 4-1 lead in the 2nd set and a 4-2 lead in the 3rd.
Posting solid results until the end of the year
Geneva/Roland Garros ended up being the last massive highlight of his season and also his last clay appearances in 2023. But Jarry was able to find a lot of stability on the other surfaces too and continued to exhibit a lot more consistency in his baseline game even in quicker/lower-bouncing conditions. His first grass campaign in four years included a win over Stefanos Tsitsipas in Halle and a third-round run at Wimbledon, which for the second time this year had him seriously threaten Alcaraz.
Tsitsipas got his revenge over him in the quarterfinals at Los Cabos, but Jarry kept picking up wins and completed the set of personal-best Slam performances by making the third round in New York. One more standout patch came at Beijing/Shanghai as he made back-to-back quarterfinals, smashing away at the Tsitsipas backhand again at the former event. All in all, a very healthy 38-19 ATP Tour main draw record allowed him to finish the year ranked World No. 19. The Grand Slam showings were such a contrast compared to the previous years of his career as Jarry entered the season at just 2-11 at the Majors, only to go 8-4 at them in 2023.
Main Photo Credit: Susan Mullane – USA TODAY Sports