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By Richard Pagliaro | Tuesday, December 7, 2021

 
Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic is set to lead Serbia's quest to regain the ATP Cup in Sydney—a sign he's intending to defend his AO title in Melbourne.

Photo credit: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images/ATP Cup Facebook

Novak Djokovic is set to step into Sydney—a sign he's intent on making a major Melbourne move.

The ATP Cup announced Djokovic will lead Team Serbia in the 2022 ATP Cup field set for January 1-9th in Sydney.

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Top seed Serbia, headed by Djokovic, will lead Group A, which will also features Norway, Chile and Spain. Two years ago, Serbia lifted the trophy at the inaugural ATP Cup by defeating a Rafa Nadal-led Spanish squad in the championship match.

Defending Davis Cup and ATP Cup champion Russia, powered by US Open champion Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, lead Group B, which includes Italy, Austria and host Australia.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by ATP Cup (@atpcup)



While the world No. 1 has yet to announce if he will defend his Australian Open title, AO organizers are hopeful Djokovic's name on the ATP Cup entry list is an indication he intends to defend his Australian Open crown in Melbourne.

The 2022 Australian Open stats on January 17th.

Nine-time Australian Open champion Djokovic, as AO tournament director Craig Tiley points out, has major motivation to play Melbourne despite his misgivings over vaccination.

The 34-year-old Serbian can capture his 21st Grand Slam crown at the tournament he's dominated to take sole ownership of the men's major mark he currently shares with rivals Rafael Nadal, who plans to play Melbourne, and Roger Federer, who announced he won't be back until the second half of 2022 at the earliest as he continues rehab from a fourth knee surgery.

Vaccination for Coronavirus is mandatory for all players to compete at the season's first Grand Slam. Djokovic has declined to disclose his vaccination status and has said in past press conferences he opposes tournaments mandating vaccines for players to compete.



Further, Djokovic's father, Srdjan Djokovic, told Serbian TV he knows Novak definitely wants to play the AO, but believes "probably not under these conditions" calling the mandatory vaccination policy a form of "blackmail."

"Of course he would want to go with all his heart," Djokovic's father Srdjan told Serbian channel Prda TV in comments published by AFP. "Because he is a sportsman and there are a lot of our people, the (Serbian) diaspora, there who would be delighted to see Novak.

"But I really don't know if that will happen. Probably not under these conditions, with this blackmail and when it's done that way."

Asked if he will play Melbourne, Novak Djokovic told the media at last week's Davis Cup "I'm not going to give you an an answer tonight [on playing the AO], but you will be informed."


Tennis Express

The 34-year-old Serbian has won eight of the last 11 Australian Open titles, including three in a row.

If Djokovic plays the ATP Cup in Sydney as scheduled, it's a clear signal the man who owns three of the four major titles will play for history in Melbourne.

The ATP Cup in Sydney features 18 of the world's Top 20.

ATP Finals and Olympic gold-medal champion Alexander Zverev, who opted out of Davis Cup, will be back for ATP Cup leading Germany. The Germans, fresh off the Davis Cup semifinals, head Group C along with Canada, Great Britain and the United States.

Fourth seed Greece, led by Roland Garros runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas, who is set to comeback from elbow surgery, will be in Group D, which also features Poland, Argentina and Georgia.



"We’re excited to host the third edition of the ATP Cup in Sydney in 2022," ATP Cup tournament director Tom Larner said. "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 draw was conducted in the ATP Cup studio by Australian legends Mark Philippoussis and John Fitzgerald.

 

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