World No. 1 Djokovic out of season opener
- Going into the new season, 2021 Slam champions Novak Djokovic (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon) and Ashleigh Barty (Wimbledon) top the rankings
- Ashleigh Barty will start her season in the WTA 500 event in Adelaide
Here we are – the start of a new season, and while the WTA is as wide open as it has ever been, are we beginning to see a changing of the guard on the ATP side?
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has now confirmed he will not be playing in the ATP Cup that will raise the curtain on this year’s season, but for now remains in the Australian Open entry list.
He has remained tight-lipped about his vaccination status, and his father has accused the Australian Open organisers of blackmailing him with their stance that only fully vaccinated players will be able to participate.
He could still be in the line-up for the first Slam of the year if he is given an approved medical exemption, or of course if he reveals he has indeed been fully vaccinated.
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Daniil Medvedev continues to have his star on the rise – a pivotal part of the winning Davis Cup Finals team and front and centre with the ATP side again. And after his impressive performance in the US Open final, who would count him out of starting to make an early run to catch Djokovic up in the points, especially if the Serbian does not show up Down Under.
Less good news for the Russians though is the news that Andrey Rublev is added to the list of Abu Dhabi Covid-19 casualties. Rublev, who won the Mubadala World Tennis Championship exhibition joins Rafael Nadal, his coach Carlos Moya and Denis Shapovalov on the ATP side to test positive after the event.
Nadal admitted having had some “uncomfortable moments” since his diagnosis, and was distinctly rusty in his two matches, losing to Andy Murray and Shapovalov.
Stefanos Tsitsipas is set to lead Greece at the ATP Cup after requiring surgery on his elbow at the end of the year, along with the rest of the top ten, except for Nadal, who is said he would be keeping his options flexible after his positive Covid-19 test.
|4||Karolina Pliskova||Czech Republic||5,135|
|5||Barbora Krejcikova||Czech Republic||5,008|
Adelaide is looking like the place to be in the first week with the top three, Ashleigh Barty, Aryna Sabalenka and Garbine Muguruza heading up a strong field in the larger of the WTA tournaments planned for the first week.
World number four Karolina Pliskova is the first main casualty of the year, with a hand injury ruling her out of the whole of the Australian swing so expect the chasing pack behind her to push her down the rankings in the next month.
Estonia’s Annett Kontaveit is the only other member of the top ten not to be in action in the first week, opting to start her season a week later in Sydney.
British number one and the newest Slam winner on the block, Emma Raducanu is due to play in the WTA Melbourne double-headers, after her off-season preparations were dealt a blow after testing positive for coronavirus ahead of her guest spot in the Mubadala World Tennis Championship.
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Abu Dhabi was not great for the training block contingent, with Tokyo Olympic champion Belinda Bencic and Ons Jabeur also testing positive after the event.
The tennis season starts on 1 January with the ATP Cup, with WTA and ATP regular tournaments set to start on the 3 & 4 January.