Novak Djokovic pulls out of ATP Cup as doubt builds over Australian Open appearance

Novak Djokovic pulls out of ATP Cup as doubt builds over Australian Open appearance

Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from the Serbian team taking part at the ATP Cup from 1 January in Sydney, throwing his participation in the Australian Open further into doubt.

Organisers have confirmed Djokovic won’t be competing in Sydney, with the Serbs now to be led by world No.33 Dusan Lajovic.

The world No 1 would be bidding for a men’s record 21st grand slam title and a 10th Australian Open crown in Melbourne.

The 34-year-old is on the entry list, but yet to commit to playing after the Covid-19 vaccination mandate agreed by Tennis Australia and the Victorian Department of Health.

Djokovic has repeatedly declined to disclose whether or not he is vaccinated, citing privacy concerns.

The Australian Open chief Craig Tiley said last week he was still uncertain whether Djokovic would be playing at the Melbourne Park major, which begins on 17 January.

All players and staff at the Australian Open will be vaccinated or have a medical exemption granted by an independent panel of experts.

Those requirements have prevented Djokovic from confirming whether he will bid for a men’s record 21st grand slam title and a 10th Australian Open crown.

Lajovic did his best to explain the situation on Thursday.

“He kept in touch with all of us and it was a last-minute decision, the Australian Open is still uncertain, I don’t know the information,” he said.

“I think that will come in the next couple of days or whenever is the deadline.

“We don’t know right now, but hopefully he’ll be there and be able to play the grand slam.”

Lajovic said Djokovic had not disclosed his reasons for skipping Serbia’s defence of the ATP Cup.

“He said I’m not coming to the ATP Cup, we’ll see about the Australian Open,” he said.

“He didn’t specify if he’s coming or not, [but] that he’s waiting for a decision.”

Djokovic is the most high-profile of a string of stars who have either pulled out or are doubtful for the Open. Beaten 2020 finalist Dominic Thiem withdrew on Tuesday night, citing a wrist injury, joining 20-time grand slam winner Roger Federer (knee) on the injury list.

Fellow 20-time title winner Rafael Nadal, current world No 5 Andrey Rublev and Denis Shapovalov (No 14) have contracted the coronavirus and may be doubtful participants.

On the women’s side, Serena Williams, Karolina Plíšková and Bianca Andreescu won’t be in Melbourne while Olympic champion Belinda Bencic, US Open winner Emma Raducanu, and French Open finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova have contracted the coronavirus.

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