ATP

Djokovic set for Australian Open? Novak commits to ATP Cup in Sydney

By Sports Desk December 07, 2021

World number one Novak Djokovic has committed to playing the ATP Cup in Sydney amid ongoing uncertainty over his title defence at next month's Australian Open.

Djokovic has been unwilling to confirm his place at January's Australia Open due to the COVID-19 mandate in Victoria.

The state of Victoria, where the year's opening grand slam takes place at Melbourne Park, has introduced a vaccine mandate for professional athletes and across most industries due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Djokovic's father, Srdjan, said the nine-time Australian Open champion is unlikely to feature in Melbourne unless vaccination rules are relaxed.

But in a boost for the slam's organisers, Djokovic was named in top-seeded Serbia's team for the third edition of the ATP Cup, which will take place in Sydney from January 1-9.

"We're excited to host the third edition of the ATP Cup in Sydney in 2022," said ATP Cup tournament director Tom Larner.

"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.

"The event shows off the passion the playing group have for this format and we look forward to welcoming all 16 teams to Sydney later this month."

The 2021 Australian Open went ahead, albeit in February instead of January, and without fans for most of the tournament following a snap lockdown of Melbourne due to COVID-19.

Djokovic – winner of a joint-record 20 grand slam titles – was among the players critical of the conditions athletes endured prior to this year's Australian Open, with strict quarantine measures introduced.

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    Nick Kyrgios is box office whenever he plays – and the Australian Open gets a first-week gift in the form of a second-round blockbuster against Daniil Medvedev.

    Kyrgios still managed to bring John Cain Arena to life even during a relatively straightforward 6-4 6-4 6-3 win over Liam Broady on Tuesday.

    The Australian, who has dropped to 115th in the rankings after not playing since last year's US Open, is arguably the must-watch player in the men's draw.

    Anything can happen when Kyrgios is in action. For all the frustrations about a thus far unfulfilled talent, Kyrgios – a two-time grand slam quarter-finalist – is box office.

    On Thursday he faces the highest ranked player in the men's draw, last year's US Open champion Medvedev, in what shapes as being a thrilling contest.

    Kyrgios has won both of his previous meetings with the Russian second seed, who is among the favourites to win the title at Melbourne Park.

    With Roger Federer absent and Novak Djokovic having been deported from Australia, tournament officials have been gifted a contest that belongs in the second week.

    All eyes will be on Thursday's schedule, with Kyrgios seemingly likely to miss out on playing on his preferred court – John Cain Arena – in a match that undoubtedly belongs on Rod Laver Arena.

    "I mean, obviously either way it's going to be a hell of an experience for me. He's probably the best player in the world at the moment. So I'm pretty excited, I'm excited for that moment. That's why I play the game," Kyrgios said after beating Broady.

    "I feel like those matches still excite me, to go out there and play the best in the world. That was always something I wanted to prove to people that someone like me could do, win those matches. I'm not going to go into it with a lot of expectation. I'm going to go out there, have some fun, play my game. I have a pretty set-in-stone game plan of what I need to do to have success.

    "As I said, he's probably the best player in the world, he does everything extremely well. He's a hard worker, ticks all the boxes. I'm not going to even think about that now. To play it on John Cain would be – I'm just going to call it the Kyrgios Court – would be fun."

    Kyrgios and Medvedev played twice in 2019, the Australian winning two tie-breaks in their most recent meeting in the final in Washington in August of that year.

     

    Medvedev was a top-10 player then, but it would be later in that year that the Russian would truly make an impact, edged by Rafael Nadal in the US Open final.

    He went 20-3 at majors last year, winning the title at Flushing Meadows, reaching the final in Melbourne and the French Open quarter-finals.

    When he met Kyrgios in Washington, Medvedev had won four ATP titles. He now has 13 to his name.

    "Yeah, I just became a different player in terms of ranking and titles. It gives you experience. That's where you can try to win matches which you have lost before, opponents which you have lost before," Medvedev said following his opening-round win against Henri Laaksonen.

    "I think there are still some guys on tour who I haven't beat. So can stay like this. I think our last match was so long ago and we are both so different and a different momentum of our careers that it's really tough to count it. As I say, win or lose, I don't think these two matches gonna count into this one, so yeah."

  • Australian Open: Brilliant Barty brushes past Bronzetti Australian Open: Brilliant Barty brushes past Bronzetti

    Ash Barty continued her impressive start to the Australian Open with a resounding win over Lucia Bronzetti on Wednesday.

    The world number one dropped just one game in the first round and was similarly rampant in the second, crushing Bronzetti 6-1 6-1 on Rod Laver Arena.

    Barty, a two-time grand slam champion, raced through in just 52 minutes to set up a meeting with another Italian, 30th seed Camila Giorgi.

    The Australian remains on track for a blockbuster fourth-round meeting with Japanese star Naomi Osaka.

    Barty quickly broke the Bronzetti serve, taking a 2-0 lead after a double fault and tame backhand into the net from the Italian.

    Bronzetti won just one point during her opening two service games as Barty broke again for 4-0, on her way to taking the first set in just 26 minutes.

    The one-sided encounter continued to begin the second set, a pair of double faults from Bronzetti helping Barty break to love in the third game.

    Barty remained untroubled, cruising through in style as her run in Melbourne continued.

    DATA SLAM: Brilliant Barty continues early blitz

    Barty has dropped just three games through two rounds at the Australian Open.

    That is the fewest number of games she has lost through the opening two rounds of a grand slam in her career, better than last year's Australian Open (seven).

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    Barty – 21/14
    Bronzetti – 6/14

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
    Barty – 8/2
    Bronzetti – 1/5

    BREAK POINTS WON
    Barty – 5/6
    Bronzetti – 0/0

  • Australian Open: Kyrgios teases Djokovic doubles alliance as 'bromance' blossoms Australian Open: Kyrgios teases Djokovic doubles alliance as 'bromance' blossoms

    Nick Kyrgios threw in an underarm serve in the second game of his Australian Open campaign, before tossing in a curveball in the post-match news conference.

    Speaking after his 6-4 6-4 6-3 win over an outmatched Liam Broady on John Cain Arena, Kyrgios proposed he might play doubles with Novak Djokovic in the future.

    Australian Kyrgios has dramatically changed his tune on the Serbian, but not in the way many have altered their perspective following recent events.

    Djokovic was deported from Australia in the hours before the Australian Open got under way, a consequence of his own failure to get a COVID-19 vaccine and seemingly mixed messages from authorities before a court settled the kerfuffle.

    His behaviour in December after a positive COVID-19 test has been widely criticised, and the reputation of arguably the greatest tennis player of all time has taken a battering in the past fortnight.

    Kyrgios recently observed the treatment of Djokovic, a nine-time champion of the Melbourne Park grand slam, had been "really bad" and said it was important to "do better" by the 20-time slam winner.

     

    The 26-year-old from Canberra has emerged as an unlikely cheerleader for the player he described as "a tool" and "a very strange cat" last February, after Djokovic was reported to have requested improved quarantine accommodation on arriving in Australia.

    Now Kyrgios is revelling in his apparent sudden popularity in Serbia, where Djokovic's banishment from Australia was greeted with anger and dismay.

    "I mean, it's great," Kyrgios said of his new standing. He then turned his focus to why he has stood up for his new friend.

    "Obviously me and Novak have had some, I guess, differences in the past. But whether it was Novak or someone else, I would have done the same thing," he said.

    "I didn't do it because he was Serbian. If it was another player in that scenario, I would have stood up for what I think was right.

    "I think it was just coincidentally it was Novak, and, you know, it was quite a story. But we've got a bit of a bromance going on now, so I'm not going to complain.

    "I think I'm going to ask him to play doubles somewhere."

    It remains to be seen where this might next prove possible. Djokovic might find he needs a vaccination to play the French Open and US Open this year, amid reports an increasing number of tournaments will insist on players being immunised as a condition of entry.

    Kyrgios, meanwhile, faced a daunting second-round match in Melbourne, with title favourite and de facto top seed Daniil Medvedev awaiting him.

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