Novak Djokovic has been named in the Serbian team for January’s season-opening ATP Cup in Sydney, significantly increasing the likelihood the world No 1 will play in the Australian Open.
Organisers of the third edition of the ATP Cup say Djokovic has committed to the men’s men’s 16-country tournament scheduled for 1-9 January, with an article on the official ATP Tour website stating that “top seed Serbia, headlined by world No 1 Novak Djokovic, will lead Group A”.
That was backed up by an ATP press release following Tuesday’s Cup draw, which “revealed world No 1 Novak Djokovic and world No 2 Daniil Medvedev are the top-ranked singles players for Serbia and defending champions Russia respectively”.
Speculation about whether Djokovic will contest the 2022 Australian Open has followed the 34-year-old for months, given all players attending Melbourne Park must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and he has repeatedly declined to publicise his vaccination status.
To play without being vaccinated in Sydney, the New South Wales government would have to apply for an exemption and Djokovic would have to undergo 14 days of quarantine upon arrival.
That same option was also open to the Australian Open organisers, but the Victorian government has said it would not apply for exemptions.
If unvaccinated, Djokovic would have to arrive in Sydney by 16 December in order to complete the mandatory 14-day quarantine for unvaccinated travellers before the competition starts on 1 January.
He has previously spoken about the pitfalls of quarantining before playing a tournament, and his inclusion in the Australian Open warm-up event makes it likely he intends to chased a 10th title in Melbourne from 17 January.
Australia has been included in pool B alongside defending champions Russia, and strong squads from Italy and Austria. The Australians will be lead by Alex de Minaur, along with James Duckworth, Max Purcell, John Peers and Luke Saville.
The Russians will be spearheaded by world No 2 Medvedev as well as Andrey Rublev, Aslan Karatsev, Roman Safiullin and Evgeny Donskoy.
Serbia will start favourite in Group A, which will also feature Norway, Chile and Spain, although world No 6 Rafael Nadal has not been included in the latter’s line-up. A winner of 20 grand slam titles alongside Djokovic and Roger Federer, Nadal is still expected to contest the Australian Open.