Sports, Tennis

Djokovic slated to play in Australia’s ATP Cup ahead of Open


By AFP
Published : 07 Dec 2021 08:02 PM | Updated : 08 Dec 2021 01:08 PM

After months of speculation that Novak Djokovic may miss the Australian Open over tough Covid vaccination requirements, the world number one was on Tuesday named to play in a Sydney tournament weeks before.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion had cast doubt on whether he would defend his title at Melbourne Park next month, refusing to reveal whether he was inoculated against coronavirus. However, he was listed as part of the five-man Serbia team when the draw was made for the ATP Cup in Sydney that will precede the opening major of the year.

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Rafael Nadal was missing, with the Spanish fellow 20-time Grand Slam winner last month suggesting he would play an exhibition in Abu Dhabi this month, then another tournament before arriving in Melbourne for the Australian Open.

The only other absent top 20 player for the 16-team ATP Cup was injured Swiss great Roger Federer.

“The playing group enjoy representing their countries and to see 18 of the world's top 20 players commit to the event is testament to that," said tournament director Tom Larner. "The event shows off the passion the playing group have for this format."

An ATP statement accompanying the draw noted that top seed Serbia was "headlined by world number Novak Djokovic", who won three of the season's four Grand Slams.

The 34-year-old ended his rollercoaster season with a Davis Cup defeat last week and then promised to make a decision on his Australian Open participation "very soon".

Organisers of the Australian Open have insisted only fully-vaccinated players will be allowed into the country, which saw Djokovic's father Srdjan last month suggest his son "probably won't" play.

"Of course he would want to go with all his heart," he told Serbian television.

"But I really don't know if that will happen. Probably not under these conditions, with this blackmail and when it's done that way."

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