Tennis is responsible for some of the most historic sporting moments each year, and coupling with those iconic points, celebrations and narratives are voices that are synonymous with the sport.
Broadcasters are vital for sport because they are the ones who capture the atmosphere and significance of every match that they call.
Their excitement translates to the viewer and helps to engage in a contest that they may not have been as invested in at the commencement of battle, which is why their words are synonymous with history in any sport.
Across the four majors, ATP and WTA in 2023 you will hear a plethora of commentators that enhance the consumption of tennis.
Here are the ten best (in this writer’s opinion anyway) that will be behind the microphones and on the screens of the world at the 2023 Australian Open, in no particular order of course.
Jim Courier (Channel 9)
The Australian summer doesn’t commence until Jim Courier’s voice on your television screen, it’s as simple as that.
He has been making the trip to Melbourne Park since the early Naughties when he was a member of Channel 7’s Australian Open coverage.
A former World No.1 and major winner himself, Courier possesses an innate knowledge of the sport that one could only dream of, coupled with charisma and style behind the microphone.
His passion speaks for itself and he is always well researched with statistics, history, the game styles of players and the story about their coaching teams.
As an interviewer, he has simply become one of the best in the sport, with his post match interviews on court being one of the best features of the Australian Open. It is no wonder that he was the person chosen to interview Roger Federer following his final match at the 2022 Laver Cup.
From a personal experience, to be able to share a television segment with him was a dream come true. He was delayed arriving for the slot due to another commitment so I was asked to seat fill as a joke, but when he made it to the studio he was so gracious and kept me at the desk to engage in the conversation.
A gem of a broadcaster and human.
Rob Koenig (World Feed - syndicated to Channel 9 for some matches)
The South African is a commentator known for his iconic one-liners and excitement whilst behind the mic.
Koenig was a champion on the ATP Tour on five occasions and has a sensational knowledge of the sport that is unrivalled by many broadcasters across the globe.
He has called some of the biggest matches over the past decade and there is a reason why, he captures each moment with energy and perfection.
His excitement is palpable, engaging audiences and drawing them into the contest and using his own point of difference to make memorable moments even more spectacular.
Koenig’s one liners are as iconic as any tennis broadcasters and will be synonymous with some of the greatest highlights in the sport.
Some of those include:
- “Like a mongoose on amphetamines.”
- “Snuck up on him like a Prius, you can’t see it coming.”
- “That is tennis nearer the gods! No mortal may approach.”
The former player is certainly one of the best in the world and the sport is very lucky to have him.
Jelena Dokic (Channel 9)
Dokic has become one of the shining stars of the commentary booth, with a clear passion for the sport that is easy to pick up from her tone.
She is constantly revising and researching, looking for a wonderful tidbit that would be of interest to the audience, a real student of the game and its history.
The former World No.4 is only getting better with each year and her analysis of the game is sensational.
Her ability to interview is another tick, with her post match chats with players becoming a real highlight, most notably with Alice Cornet at the 2022 Australian Open.
We are very lucky to have such great access to a phenomenal tennis mind.
Sam Smith (Channel 9)
Again the dulcet tones of Sam Smith will be on our screens throughout the Australian Open.
There is something about British commentators that just sounds smooth and sophisticated, and Sam fits the bill.
She follows the tours across the year and her knowledge of tennis is unparalleled, it comes through loud and clear when she calls.
Vocabulary is important as a broadcaster and she possesses the widest of them, it is a pleasure to be able to listen to one of the best the world has to offer.
Brett Phillips (SEN)
What can I say about BP? There are not many members of the media who do more for the sport of tennis in this country, this site speaks for itself.
But his commentary is elite, radio is a difficult medium to master and he has certainly done it, knowing when to go and when to hold back.
The speed of tennis on the dial is extremely tough to maintain and Phillips engages with perfection.
Not only is he a brilliant caller, but he can also host and anchor an entire broadcast which is a massive plus side.
He is now venturing into more television projects on Channel 9, hosting the coverage of the overseas Slams, as well as the day sessions for both of the 2023 Adelaide Internationals.
Quite frankly, nobody is more deserving.
Tune in to the SEN coverage of the 2023 Australian Open to hear BP doing what he does best.
Todd Woodbridge (Channel 9)
Woodbridge has become a staple of the Australian summer since he retired from playing, and he has become one of the best and most revered commentators in the world.
The fact that he commentated the Wimbledon final for the host broadcaster speaks for itself.
He has done a solid apprenticeship since his days with Channel 7, commentating his first Australian Open men’s singles decider before the rights moved to 9.
Woodbridge is gifted with a salubrious knowledge of the sport, one of the most successful playing careers in recent memory and an ability to anchor a broadcast as well commentate.
The 16-time doubles Grand Slam champion is going from strength to strength every year.
Nick Lester (World Feed - syndicated to 9 for some matches)
Nick Lester, like Koenig, has been part of the Tennis TV furniture for more than a decade and his voice is synonymous with the ATP and Grand Slams.
His vocabulary is outstanding and it is no surprise that he is teamed up with Koenig to call marquee matches at the grandest tournaments on the calendar, with the pair recently commentating the gladiatorial clash between Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner at the 2022 US Open.
Lester uses tone to perfection and captures moments in a way that most broadcasters can only dream of.
He understands the game and knows its history, with his preparation outstanding. Not to mention the fact that he can change mediums from television to radio at the drop of a hat.
His dulcet tones are graceful and classy, another that we as tennis fans are very lucky to have in the sport.
Mark Petchey (World Feed - syndicated to 9 for some matches)
Another World Feed star at the top of his game.
Has called some of the biggest matches and like Lester and Koenig, a part of the furniture when calling marquee matches.
He has been behind the mic for some of the most stunning contests in recent memory and his line of, “I will never, ever forget that rally,” from the Federer Nadal Australian Open final in 2017 will stand the test of time.
Petchey reached a career high of 80 in singles and has an intimate knowledge of the sport, its tactics and the players.
His interviewing skills are brilliant, often asked to conduct post match conversations with players after victory.
Another with a ranging vocabulary, his calls should be studied by aspiring tennis commentators.
Chris Bowers (AO Radio)
Bowers has a lovely voice, simple as that. I love listening to him.
Whether it is television or radio he is pure elegance, and his extensive knowledge of tennis comes across when he is commentating.
He adapts to whatever medium he is broadcasting, whether it be the rigorous speed of radio to the slower pace of television.
His voice is now becoming synonymous with Roland Garros and it’s English feed coverage, but this year in Melbourne you can hear him via the Australian Open app and website as he once again sits in the bunker for AO Radio, where he also serves as Executive Editor.
The Englishman is one of the best when it comes to tennis broadcasting and isn’t a bad author either, penning a biography of Roger Federer throughout his glittering career.
Peter Marcato (World Feed and AO Radio)
A man who’s Twitter bio says “The best commentator you’ve never heard of.”
Well Peter Marcato is a sensational caller across several sports and mediums.
His voice is crisp and clear, crossing mediums to perfection often multiple times in one day throughout the Australian Open.
The Australian is well versed in tennis and often travels around the world to commentate the other Grand Slams.
Marcato has a brilliant sense of humour and the Aussie wit certainly shines through, with his banter with his co-hosts a clear strength.
He understands when to utilise tone on both radio and television, navigating extensive rallies and matches with ease as he delights audiences across the globe.
There you have it. But this is just one’s opinion, so hit us up on Twitter @TheFirstServeAU for your favourite tennis commentators.