Andy Murray stumbled out of the Melbourne Summer Set tournament after a first-round defeat to Argentinian Facundo Bagnis.

In his opening ATP Tour match of the year, three-time grand slam winner Murray slipped up 6-3 5-7 6-3 against Bagnis, a player who began the year with a 30-59 win-loss career record.

Left-hander Bagnis rose to the occasion on Rod Laver Arena to earn the scalp of the former world number one.

Murray, down at 134th in the rankings after another injury-hit year, is looking to make headway on that front in 2022 under new coach Jan de Witt, so that he can avoid having to take wildcards into tournaments.

He was allowed into this tournament by that back-door route, and has also been confirmed for an Australian Open wildcard, but the Scot could not find the form that saw him beat Rafael Nadal at an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi in late December.

Bagnis said of his win: "In the beginning it was a pleasure to play against Andy and right now to beat him is amazing. I'm really happy."

He added, according to the tournament website: "Yesterday, I came to see the stadium, to see it all around because the atmosphere is different when you play on any court outside… I enjoyed it a lot. It was so good for me."

Nadal was also back in action on Tuesday, playing his first match on the main tour since August as he teamed up with fellow Spaniard Jaume Munar for a doubles win.

A foot injury meant Nadal's 2021 season ended early, but he warmed up for singles tests that lie ahead by joining Munar for a 6-3 3-6 10-4 win over Argentinians Sebastian Baez and Tomas Martin Etcheverry.

At the Adelaide International 1 tournament, there was a notable first-round win on Tuesday for Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis, who saw off compatriot John Millman 6-4 6-3.

Kokkinakis, a major talent as a youngster, is battling to reassert himself on tour after injury troubles, and beating Millman put his name up in lights for at least one day.

He reflected afterwards on the battle it has taken so far, with last year spent largely living out of a suitcase on the second-tier Challenger Tour.

"It was a gruelling year travelling," said Kokkinakis. "I've played a couple of times [in Adelaide] but just in exhibitions, so to play a real meaningful tournament and beat such a quality opponent, a proven veteran like Johnny, means a lot. I played great, and the support was great, so I'm really happy."

Daniil Medvedev quietened the home crowd in Sydney as he dispatched Australia's Alex De Minaur in straight sets to seal victory for Russia in the ATP Cup.

Medvedev, who led Russia to victory in last year's tournament, lost his first singles match at the 2022 edition, going down to France's Ugo Humbert.

However, the US Open champion hit back in convincing fashion against De Minaur, winning 6-4 6-2 in 80 minutes.

Medvedev's win took Russia into an unassailable 2-0 lead prior to the doubles encounter between the two nations, which the world number two also featured in alongside the in-form Roman Safiullin, who made it three wins from as many games by overcoming James Duckworth 7-6 (8-6) 6-4.

The Russian duo then made sure of a 3-0 match win in the doubles, coming back from losing the second set to triumph 10-6 in the decider.

"We fight when we play for our country, to the last point," said Medvedev, who also revealed he felt unwell before his singles game and had to take painkillers.

"I'm really happy for Roman, he's winning every match he's played so far. I watched his match tonight from the locker room. I've known him since he was 10, he had a good junior career and has been unlucky with injuries."

Russia have put themselves in a strong position to qualify from Group B, though they face Italy – in a repeat of last year's final – in their last match, with Australia taking on France, who are already eliminated.

France's elimination came at the hands of Italy, with Matteo Berrettini's singles win over Humbert was enough to secure victory for the 2021 runners-up.

Great Britain suffered disappointment in Group C, with Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov coming out on top 6-4 6-1 in the decisive doubles encounter against Joe Salisbury and Jamie Murray. 

Dan Evans defeated Shapovalov in straight sets to nudge Great Britain ahead, yet Auger-Aliassime started Canada's comeback with a 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 win over Cameron Norrie.

It is all to play for in that group, with Germany having overcome the United States 2-1 – world number three Alexander Zverev in commanding form once more.

That leaves all four teams on 1-1 records and in with a chance of making the semi-finals.

Novak Djokovic went through "rigorous" checks before being handed a medical exemption to compete at the Australian Open, tournament chiefs insisted.

A wave of criticism followed Djokovic's announcement that he was on his way to Melbourne for the season's first grand slam tournament.

The Serbian has not directly addressed whether he has been vaccinated against COVID-19, but players who compete at Melbourne Park either require proof they have been jabbed or an exemption.

He has spoken openly and critically about vaccine mandates, insisting there should be freedom of choice in all walks of life.

Many Australians on social media spoke out against the decision to welcome Djokovic into the country, predicting he could face a frosty reception while the country battles surging cases of the Omicron variant.

Djokovic will be bidding to win a 10th Australian Open title and a record 21st singles grand slam, more than any man in history.

The 34-year-old had his bags packed and was awaiting a flight at an airport when he broke the news of his trip to Australia on Tuesday.

Australian Open chiefs confirmed he had been granted permission to play, saying in a statement: "Novak Djokovic will compete at the Australian Open and is on his way to Australia.

"Djokovic applied for a medical exemption which was granted followting a rigorous review process involving two separate independent panels of medical experts. One of those was the independent medical exemption review panel appointed by the Victorian Department of Health."

There has been no detail given of why Djokovic qualified for an exemption, and unless he is willing to disclose personal medical information it is set to remain that way.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said it remained the case that all involved with the tournament, from fans through to players, must be fully vaccinated or have an exemption permission allowing them to attend.

Tiley said: "Fair and independent protocols were established for assessing medical exemption applications that will enable us to ensure Australian Open 2022 is safe and enjoyable for everyone.

"Central to this process was that the decisions were made by independent medical experts and that every applicant was given due consideration."

Explaining the process of securing exemptions, the Australian Open indicated in its statement that Djokovic would not have been treated as a special case.

It pointed out that a government-appointed panel assessed all cases that got past the first stage of checks, and that "the process included the redaction of personal information to ensure privacy for all applicants".

This should mean Djokovic was not identifiable to those making the crucial decisions about whether he should be allowed to take part.

"The multi-step independent review process was designed to ensure the safety of everyone at the Australian Open," the tournament statement added.

Novak Djokovic has announced he will play at the Australian Open, revealing he has been given "exemption permission" to compete.

The world number one and nine-time champion in Melbourne has not declared whether he has been vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.

Australia has stringent rules about who should be allowed to enter the country, with tennis players needing to be either vaccinated or hold a medical exemption in order to play the grand slam tournament.

Serbian superstar Djokovic wrote on Instagram on Tuesday: "I’ve spent fantastic quality time with my loved ones over the break and today I'm heading Down Under with an exemption permission. Let's go 2022!!"

Djokovic's message was accompanied by a picture of him at an airport, with a tennis racquet bag atop his luggage on a trolley, indicating he was ready to board his flight to Australia.

He told his followers: "Happy New Year, everybody! Wishing you all health, love, and happiness in every present moment and may you feel love and respect towards all beings on this wonderful planet."

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said on Sunday he expected defending champion Djokovic's status for the event to become clear within days. The grounds for Djokovic receiving an exemption have yet to be disclosed, and it is unclear whether they will ever be made public.

The 20-time grand slam winner withdrew from the ATP Cup in Sydney last week, begging questions of whether he would head to Australia at all, but now that appears to have been cleared up.

Djokovic has steadfastly refused to disclose whether he has been jabbed. His declaration that he has been given an exemption points to him not having been vaccinated.

The 34-year-old won in Melbourne last February and followed up by triumphing at the French Open and Wimbledon to join Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer on 20 major titles.

Djokovic will be attempting to seize the outright lead by capturing a 21st slam, with the Australian Open running from January 17-30 at Melbourne Park.

He was on the same mission at the US Open but lost out to Daniil Medvedev in the New York final in September, as the Russian landed his first grand slam title at Flushing Meadows.

Medvedev was the man Djokovic beat in last year's Australian Open final, and is again expected to be a major challenger this time around.

Novak Djokovic has announced he will play at the Australian Open, revealing he has been given "exemption permission" to compete.

The world number one and nine-time champion in Melbourne has not declared whether he has been vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.

Australia has stringent rules about who should be allowed to enter the country, with tennis players needing to be either vaccinated or hold a medical exemption in order to play the grand slam tournament.

Serbian superstar Djokovic wrote on Instagram: "I’ve spent fantastic quality time with my loved ones over the break and today I'm heading Down Under with an exemption permission. Let's go 2022!!"

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley says it should become clear in "the coming days" if Novak Djokovic will defend his title at Melbourne Park this month.

Djokovic withdrew from the ATP Cup in Sydney last week and has not yet arrived in Melbourne for the first grand slam of the year.

Players must be vaccinated or have a medical exemption in order to play in the opening major of 2022 and Djokovic has refused to disclose whether he has been jabbed.

Tiley is unsure whether the world number one will go in search of a record 21st grand slam title at the Australian Open, which starts on January 17.

"We've still got a few charter flights coming in until the end of this week and then all the players will be here," he told the Nine Network.

"As far as the status relates to Novak, I think we'll have a much clearer picture in the coming days otherwise it's getting pretty late to show up and play the Australian Open."

He added: "There's quite a bit to play out and I think it will play out in the coming days."

Djokovic has won the Australian Open men's singles title a record nine times and beat Daniil Medvedev in the 2021 final. 

Stefanos Tsitsipas withdrew from his ATP Cup match against Hubert Hurkacz on Saturday but eased injury fears after playing in the doubles.

The Greek star, ranked fourth in the world, is recovering from elbow surgery but suffered a flare-up of the problem in Sydney and pulled out of the Group D singles tie as a precaution.

With the Australian Open coming up later this month, the two-time Melbourne Park semi-finalist appeared comfortable as he paired up with Michail Pervolarakis for a 6-4 5-7 10-8 win.

"The recovery from my elbow surgery in November is on track for Melbourne and today was a precautionary step to make sure I make Melbourne," he said.

"We will see day by day, match by match until then."

Aristotelis Thanos stepped in for Greece and lost 6-1 6-2 as Hurkacz helped Poland into a 2-0 lead after Kamil Majchrzak had beaten Pervolarakis 6-1 6-4, making the doubles clash a dead rubber.

Spain, runners-up in 2020, showed no mercy on Chile despite the absence of Rafael Nadal as they stormed to a 3-0 win in Group A.

Roberto Bautista Agut downed Cristian Garin 6-0 6-3, while Pablo Carreno Busta defeated Alejandro Tabilo 6-4 7-6 (7-4). Doubles pairing Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Pedro Martinez battled to a 7-6 (7-3) 4-6 10-7 victory over Tabilo and Tomas Barrios.

Argentina also enjoyed a 3-0 triumph in Group D, with Georgia coming up blank against a team led by Diego Schwartzman.

Serbia, without Novak Djokovic, earned a decisive doubles success to seal a 2-1 win over Norway, with Nikola Cacic and Filip Krajinovic downing Casper Ruud and Viktor Durasovic.

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

Djokovic has not yet confirmed his place at January's Grand Slam due to the COVID-19 mandate in Victoria.

The 34-year-old's father, Srdjan, has previously said that the nine-time Australian Open champion is unlikely to feature in Melbourne unless vaccination rules are relaxed.

World number 33 Dusan Lajovic will now lead the Serbia team at the ATP Cup.

Meanwhile, Austria have been replaced by France at the event following the withdrawals of Dominic Thiem and Dennis Novak. The French will be led by world number 35 Ugo Humbert, alongside Arthur Rinderknech, Edouard Roger-Vasselin and Fabrice Martin.

Russia's Andrey Rublev, Aslan Karatsev and Evgeny Donskoy have withdrawn, with Evgeny Karlovskiy joining the team, while Team USA's Austin Krajicek has also pulled out.

The ATP Cup will begin on New Year's Day at both Ken Rosewall Arena and Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney Olympic Park.

Dominic Thiem has withdrawn from next month's Australian Open.

Thiem has not played on the ATP Tour since suffering a wrist injury at the Mallorca Championships in June.

The 2020 US Open champion was due to feature in the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi this month, but withdrew after suffering a setback.

Thiem on Tuesday revealed his wrist is in "optimal condition", but the Austrian will miss the first grand slam of the year at Melbourne Park and will instead make his comeback at the Cordoba Open next month.

The Austrian tweeted: "As you all know, I came back home to Austria to recover after hard practice sessions I had in Dubai and the slight setback in my preparation. I am now feeling well again, my wrist is in optimal condition and I am practicing normally with a very good intensity.

"After my 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, a city that I love and where I have great memories of unforgettable matches in front of amazing crowds. I will miss the Australian fans but I will be back in 2023.

"We believe this is the right decision in order to have a good return to competition. For the moment I will remain in Austria for a few more days and then head to practice outdoors and get ready for my first event of the season."

The 28-year-old was a runner-up in the 2020 Australian Open before going on to claim his first major title at Flushing Meadows.

Alexander Zverev believes he will form a big three with Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev in 2022 but hopes he will not get the chance to become world number one at the Australian Open.

The German is knocking on the door near the top of the rankings after a fine year that saw him win six titles, including the season-ending ATP Finals in Turin and an Olympic gold medal in Tokyo.

Zverev, currently ranked third, could go top of the rankings if he wins the Australian Open, which starts next month, but that is only possible if current world number one Djokovic does not play.

And Zverev is hopeful the Serbian will take part despite continued uncertainty over his participation in the tournament amid intense debate over his COVID-19 vaccine stance.

Djokovic, a nine-time Australian Open winner, is yet to disclose his vaccination status.

Tournament chief Craig Tiley said this week he is still hoping to see the tour's top player participate if he meets the required conditions, which are either being vaccinated or having a medical exemption.

"The situation with Novak and Australia is still a big question mark," Zverev said in a podcast appearance with Eurosport Germany. 

"Of course, I hope that he will be allowed to play, that is very clear.

"There are thousands of mathematical calculations, if he doesn't play Australia and I win the Australian Open, then I'm number one in the world and so on and so forth.

"At the end of the day, now is not the time to think about [being world number one]. Now is the time to prepare as best as you can so you're physically able to play for it."

As well as his silverware, Zverev made the last four of the French Open and US Open, and the 24-year-old believes his experience has begun to come to the fore.

Zverev had a 59-15 record this season and recorded at least one victory against every other player inside the top 10 of the ATP year-end rankings.

"I've become much calmer and I'm also getting older," he added.

"I'm not 18 or 19 anymore. I understand maybe a bit more things about life and understand that you just have to keep calm in important situations. That has had its effect on me this year.

"I think next year could be very similar to the last six months from this year.

"Before, there used to be always talk about Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic – now the big titles were the Olympics, US Open, Turin and Wimbledon, and they were all won by Medvedev, Djokovic and me. 

"I don't expect it to be any different next year."

Alexander Zverev believes he will form a big three with Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev in 2022 but hopes he will not get the chance to become world number one at the Australian Open.

The German is knocking on the door near the top of the rankings after a fine year that saw him win six titles, including the season-ending ATP Finals in Turin and an Olympic gold medal in Tokyo.

Zverev, currently ranked third, could go top of the rankings if he wins the Australian Open, which starts next month, but that is only possible if current world number one Djokovic does not play.

And Zverev is hopeful the Serbian will take part despite continued uncertainty over his participation in the tournament amid intense debate over his COVID-19 vaccine stance.

Djokovic, a nine-time Australian Open winner, is yet to disclose his vaccination status.

Tournament chief Craig Tiley said this week he is still hoping to see the tour's top player participate if he meets the required conditions, which are either being vaccinated or having a medical exemption.

"The situation with Novak and Australia is still a big question mark," Zverev said in a podcast appearance with Eurosport Germany. 

"Of course, I hope that he will be allowed to play, that is very clear.

"There are thousands of mathematical calculations, if he doesn't play Australia and I win the Australian Open, then I'm number one in the world and so on and so forth.

"At the end of the day, now is not the time to think about [being world number one]. Now is the time to prepare as best as you can so you're physically able to play for it."

As well as his silverware, Zverev made the last four of the French Open and US Open, and the 24-year-old believes his experience has begun to come to the fore.

Zverev had a 59-15 record this season and recorded at least one victory against every other player inside the top 10 of the ATP year-end rankings.

"I've become much calmer and I'm also getting older," he added.

"I'm not 18 or 19 anymore. I understand maybe a bit more things about life and understand that you just have to keep calm in important situations. That has had its effect on me this year.

"I think next year could be very similar to the last six months from this year.

"Before, there used to be always talk about Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic – now the big titles were the Olympics, US Open, Turin and Wimbledon, and they were all won by Medvedev, Djokovic and me. 

"I don't expect it to be any different next year."

Andy Murray will compete at the Australian Open for the first time in three years after being awarded a main-draw wildcard.

Murray has finished as a runner-up five times at Melbourne Park – most recently in 2016 when he was beaten by Novak Djokovic 6-1 7-5 7-6 (7-3).

The Scot has since struggled with a hip injury that had him on the verge of retirement, while he dropped to 134th in the world rankings.

However, the former world number one was in action at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi last week, where he defeated Rafael Nadal before eventually falling to Andrey Rublev in the final of the exhibition event.

Murray was due to feature at the Australian Open in 2020 before a positive coronavirus test stopped him from playing, but the 34-year-old is thankful for the chance to compete in Melbourne again.

"I'm really excited to be back playing at the Australian Open and grateful to Craig [Tiley] and the team for the opportunity," Murray said on his wildcard, as quoted by the tournament's website.

"I've had some great times in Australia playing in front of the amazing crowds and I can't wait to step back out on court at Melbourne Park."

Tournament director and Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley added: "Andy is renowned for his fighting spirit, passion and love of the game, and I'm delighted to welcome him back to Melbourne in January."

American Stefan Kozlov and Frenchman Lucas Pouille join Murray as the men's singles wildcards so far, with the other four spots likely to go to Australians and another to an Asia-Pacific player.

The Australian Open gets underway on January 17 with the final set to take place 13 days later.

Australian Open chief Craig Tiley wants Novak Djokovic to participate in Melbourne but will not ask the world number one to disclose any medical reason he has for being unvaccinated against COVID-19.

The first grand slam of 2022 begins on January 17, but it is unclear if reigning champion Djokovic will be competing.

The Serbian, a nine-time Australian Open winner, is yet to disclose his vaccination status.

Following guidance from the Victoria state government, all players, staff and spectators at Melbourne Park must have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus or hold a medical exemption.

Djokovic has been named on the list for the draw and is also due to represent Serbia at the ATP Cup in Sydney, which runs from January 1 to 9.

"If Novak shows up, he'll be vaccinated or have a medical exemption," Australian Open chief executive Tiley told the Australian Associated Press.

"If any player, fan [or] workforce is on site here, you're either vaccinated or you have a medical exemption that's approved and you're on the Australian Immunisation Register.

"That provides us with safety and an extra level of comfort on site.

"We want to have the best players here; I'd love to have Novak here. If he meets those conditions then great, if not, it's disappointing."

Tiley added he does not expect Djokovic to reveal any medical reason for which he may not have received the vaccine, should he receive a medical exemption to feature in the tournament.

"Medically, he doesn't talk to anyone about it. I'm not going to ask Novak that, it's none of my business," Tiley continued.

"[It's] his choice on his medical condition, it's his choice to keep personal and private like all of us would do with any condition we may or may not have. We are not going to force him or ask him to disclose that.

"[If he is here] I will know that he fulfils one of those conditions."

Rafael Nadal is set to play in Melbourne, though that is in doubt after the Spaniard tested positive for COVID-19 this week, following his appearance at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Dubai.

Tiley, however, believes Nadal will have recovered in time.

"I'm confident Rafa will be here," said Tiley. "Players that are testing positive now will complete a period of time until they are no longer infectious and they will be fine.

"If you are going to test positive and you want to play the Australian Open, your timing would be now."

Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Belinda Bencic has tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of next month's Australian Open and is experiencing "severe" symptoms.

World number 23 Bencic returned a positive test, along with Ons Jabeur, after competing at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi.

The pair are the third and fourth players to have tested positive after travelling to the Abu Dhabi event, following 2021 US Open winner Emma Raducanu and 20-time major winner Rafael Nadal.

Bencic wrote on Twitter: "Unfortunately and even though I am fully vaccinated, I recently tested positive for Covid-19.

"I am currently isolating and taking all precautionary [measures] to get through this as best as possible as I am experiencing quite severe symptoms (fever, aches, chills)."

The Mubadala World Tennis Championship typically serves as a warm-up event prior to the Australian Open which is due to begin on January 17 in Melbourne.

World number 10 Jabeur, who defeated Bencic in Abu Dhabi, is experiencing "strong symptoms" and isolating in her native Tunisia.

Rafael Nadal has tested positive for coronavirus on his return to Spain, leaving his participation at the Australian Open in doubt.

The 20-time major champion played at the Mubadala Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi last weekend and declared his mission a success despite consecutive defeats on his return from a foot injury.

Indeed, Nadal had only competed in two matches since losing to Novak Djokovic in the French Open semi-finals in June before testing his long-term foot problem against Andy Murray and most recently Denis Shapovalov.

However, the 35-year-old's plans to feature in the Melbourne ATP 250 ahead of the Australian Open in early January have suffered a setback after he tested positive for COVID-19 upon landing in his home country on Monday.

Nadal revealed the news on Twitter as he posted: "I wanted to announce that on my return home after playing the Abu Dhabi tournament, I have tested positive for COVID in the PCR test that was performed on me when I arrived in Spain.

"Both in Kuwait and Abu Dhabi we passed controls every two days and all were negative, the last being on Friday and having the results on Saturday.

"I am having some unpleasant moments but I hope that I will improve little by little. I am now homebound and have reported the result to those who have been in contact with me.

"As a consequence of the situation, I have to have total flexibility with my calendar and I will analyse my options. I will keep you informed of any decisions about my future tournaments!"

Nadal was eyeing the Australian Open, which starts on January 17, as his first major comeback, though he earlier admitted his entry was not guaranteed as he evaluated his foot injury and physical fitness.

"I cannot guarantee Australia one hundred per cent, because I need to go home and see how the body responds after these days," Nadal told reporters on Saturday. 

"I have time to make a decision. At this point in my career, I need to go day by day, study each movement well.

"I have been able to show a competitive level against good players even without being in perfect condition. There are things to improve but looking at things with perspective it has been a positive tournament [in Abu Dhabi].

"The main objective is to be healthy enough to do the things that I need to do and aspire to the objectives that I have always had. The illusion and passion continue to exist."

The ATP Tour event in Melbourne, which would be Nadal's first such tournament since August, is due to start on January 3.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.