Tennis: Matt Ebden new No.1 doubles player in the world

Matt Ebden is happy to call himself the best in the world after becoming the first Australian male in almost 23 years to top the ATP Tour doubles rankings.

It’s an achievement that has come after he opted to try for a “sub-career” in doubles and to win a few titles to help progress his singles career.

But the 36-year-old from Perth has exceeded all those little goals, having formed a formidable winning partnership with Indian Rohan Bopanna, whom he surpassed as world No.1.

Together the duo have won 15 of their past 17 grand slam matches, which includes their Australian Open 2024 triumph as well as a runner-up finish at last year’s US Open and a semi-final appearance at Wimbledon.

They also contested a tour-leading four ATP 1000 finals last season, with Ebden, who won the Wimbledon title in 2022 with fellow Aussie Max Purcell, rising to the top ranking officially on Monday.

“It’s a little bit surreal,” Ebden said.

“In the past two, three years when I started on this doubles track, I always thought I’d have this little sub-career in doubles and try to win all the slams and get a real high ranking. I thought it would be great if I could get to the top 10.

“I quickly realised I’m probably one of the best doubles players in the world, if not the best, so I wanted to try to aim for that and get to that No.1 ranking.”

Ebden, now a first-choice Davis Cup pick for captain Lleyton Hewitt, is only the fifth Australian to top the men’s doubles rankings, having peaked at world No.39 in singles in 2018.

“I’ve done my time and the hard slog all around the world for nearly 20 years and it’s very, very difficult,” he told tennis.com.au.

“But looking back now at how quickly things have happened for me on the doubles front, winning multiple slams and being world No.1 within two to three years of taking doubles really seriously and focusing on it, I couldn’t be happier.

“I probably would have thought it would have happened sometime in the next two, three or four years. For all of it to happen super quick, I’m really, really happy about it.”

Ebden is also the third oldest man to debut at world No.1 in doubles. Only Bopanna (at age 43 last month) and American Rajeev Ram (at age 38 in 2022) were older when they achieved the feat.

“I definitely don’t take anything for granted,” Ebden said.

“Which makes it even sweeter to be winning slams, getting to No.1 and getting those big major life goals ticked off now.”

“Now it’s trying to think, ‘Wow, how great can you be? How many Slams can you win? How much can you dominate? Can you win enough to be in contention for the Hall of Fame one day’?

“To win slams and become the world No.1, there’s not too much else you can ask for, but I’d like to win all the other slams and Olympics and Davis Cup. Those are the things that are still going to keep me motivated and buzzing this year and in the years to come.”

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