According to organizers, Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from this week’s ATP Cup in Sydney, creating doubts over whether he will defend his Australian Open title.
There has been much speculation over whether he will go to Australia after he refused to specify whether he had been immunized against the coronavirus.
“World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from the 2022 ATP Cup,” organizers said on Saturday, just days before the team tournament’s debut.
“World No. 33 Dusan Lajovic will now lead Team Serbia.”
If Djokovic, the nine-time Australian Open champion, plays at Melbourne Park next month, he has a chance to capture a record 21st Grand Slam title, but he and his entourage must first get vaccinated before entering Australia.
His father, Srdjan, said in late November that Djokovic would most likely not play in the year’s opening Grand Slam, accusing the organizers of “blackmail.”
Djokovic is listed as a participant in the Australian Open, which begins on January 17, but he might withdraw at any time. At one stage, he was also on the ATP Cup entry list.
Tennis Australia has arranged for international stars to travel in on charter flights to Melbourne and Sydney.
Naomi Osaka, the defending women’s Australian Open champion, was among those who arrived on Tuesday, but Djokovic was not. Players can take commercial flights as well.
France will replace Austria in Group B after Dominic Thiem and Dennis Novak withdrew on Wednesday, according to organizers. The ATP Cup has been plagued by several withdrawals, either because to Covid or injury.
According to the ATP Cup, Andrey Rublev of Team Russia, who has Covid, Aslan Karatsev, and Evgeny Donskoy, has also withdrawn, as has Austin Krajicek of Team USA.
The Australian Open and a plethora of other tournaments in the country appear to be under threat from Covid.
Rafael Nadal, the Spanish superstar who was set to play a warm-up event in Melbourne next week, was one of several players who contracted the virus earlier this month at an Abu Dhabi exhibition tournament.
Wimbledon semi-finalist Denis Shapovalov, his opponent in Abu Dhabi, later tested positive as well.
Belinda Bencic, the Olympic gold medalist, Emma Raducanu, the US Open champion, and Wimbledon quarter-finalist Ons Jabeur all tested positive at the same event.
As per Washingtonnewsday, Nick Kyrgios urged Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic to compete in the Australian Open on Wednesday, calling it a “catastrophe” if the ‘Big Three’ did not.