As the Australian Open draws ever nearer, the chances that Novak Djokovic will not be heading the men’s draw is becoming more certain as he personally refuses to confirm whether he will be participating this year and miss the chance of setting a couple of new records.
I will start the season in South America at the Cordoba Open in Argentina, end of January, and therefore I will not play this year at the Australian Open in Melbourne Dominic Thiem
His name remains on the Melbourne list of entries as it has done for the ATP Cup which starts at the weekend, but the organisers have finally confirmed he will not be participating as Dusan Lajovic has replaced him in the Serbian team.
Earlier this week it was rumoured that the Australian Government was weakening with regard to its strict regulations which require all players, officials and fans to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19, and give him a medical exemption, but a rejection has been reported in a Serbian daily newspaper.
ATP Cup organisers also disclosed in a roster update that France is replacing Austria in the 16-country event following the withdrawals of both Dominic Thiem and Dennis Novak.
Thiem, last year’s US Open champion, who has now further delayed his comeback from a lengthy wrist injury, has also pulled out of the Australian Open.
“After the short holidays, my team and I have assessed all matters and we have decided to make some changes to my initial tournament schedule: I will start the season in South America at the Cordoba Open in Argentina, end of January, and therefore I will not play this year at the Australian Open in Melbourne,” he posted on Twitter.
Other absentees at the ATP Cup include world No.5 Andrey Rublev and the world No.14 Denis Shapovalov, both having tested positive for Covid.
“I am currently in Barcelona and unfortunately tested positive for COVID-19,” Rublev wrote on Twitter last weekend. “I am in isolation and following all the protocols under the supervision of doctors.
“As you know, I am fully vaccinated and was preparing for tournaments – ATP Cup and Australian Open. Now I have to recover and I will go to Melbourne only when it will be safe for everyone.”
Shapovalov also used Twitter to reveal the test result following his arrival Down Under.
“Hi everyone, just wanted to update you that upon my arrival in Sydney, I tested positive for Covid.
“I am following all protocols, including isolation and letting the people who I’ve been in contact with know.
“Right now I am experiencing minor symptoms and look forward to getting back on the court, when it is safe to do so.”
Both should be OK for the 17h January when the Australian Open gets under way.
“Players that are testing positive now will complete a period of time until they are no longer infectious, and they’ll be fine,” Craig Tiley, the AO Tournament Director confirmed recently to reporters.