Australian Open tennis drama: Novak Djokovic signs up for ATP Cup amid vaccination speculation


Novak Djokovic has pledged to play in the ATP Cup in Sydney ahead of the Australian Open.

This is the clearest sign yet that the world No.1 is ready to get vaccinated for the Australian tennis major – where all players must show proof of COVID-19 vaccination in order to compete.

The news was announced Tuesday afternoon by the organizers of the ATP Cup, who proudly announced that the Serbian star will travel to Australia to host a prestigious event in early January.

“The 16 countries that will participate in the third edition of the ATP Cup, which will feature 18 of the top 20 players in the FedEx ATP rankings, were divided into four groups in the official draw for the tournament on Tuesday in Australia,” said a release read the ATP Cup website.

“The team event will take place in Sydney from January 1-9, 2022.

“Number one seed Serbia, led by world No.1 Novak Djokovic, will lead Group A, which will also include Norway, Chile and Spain.

“Two years ago, Serbia lifted the trophy in the first ATP Cup, beating Spain in the league game.”

Novak Djokovic is against compulsory vaccination. Credit: Getty

ATP Cup tournament director Tom Larner said he was delighted to see some of the best players in the world enter the tournament.

“We are delighted to host the third ATP Cup in Sydney in 2022,” said Larner.

“The group of players love to represent their country and seeing 18 of the top 20 players in the world enter the event is proof of that.

“The event shows the group’s passion for this format and we look forward to welcoming all 16 teams to Sydney later this month.”

Djokovic has not made a public commitment to defend his Australian Open title at Melbourne Park or reveal his vaccination status, despite repeated questions about it.

Novak Djokovic.
Novak Djokovic will lead Serbia in the ATP Cup Sydney team event in January. Credit: EPA

Although the ATP Cup doesn’t have the same entry criteria as the Melbourne tennis major, its inclusion for the Open warm-up tournament means it now looks likely to aim for a 10th crown.

To play without being vaccinated in Sydney, the NSW government would have to seek an exemption for Djokovic and the 34-year-old is expected to undergo a 14-day quarantine upon his arrival.

Australia were included in Pool B alongside defending champions Russia and strong teams from Italy and Austria.

The Australians will be led by Alex de Minaur, with James Duckworth, Max Purcell, John Peers and Luke Saville.

The Russians will be led by world number 2 Daniil Medvedev as well as Andrey Rublev, Aslan Karatsev, Roman Safiullin and Evgeny Donskoy.

Serbia will start favorites in Group A, which will also include Norway, Chile and Spain, although world number 6 Rafael Nadal was not included in the latter’s roster.

Winner of 20 Grand Slam titles alongside Djokovic and Roger Federer, Nadal is still expected to play in the Australian Open, from January 17.

The nine-day event will take place in Sydney at the Ken Rosewall Arena and Qudos Bank Arena.

– With PAA


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