Nick Kyrgios' verdict on looming Australian Open 'disaster'

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·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
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  • Novak Djokovic
    Novak Djokovic
    Serbian tennis player
  • Nick Kyrgios
    Australian tennis player
  • Roger Federer
    Roger Federer
    Swiss tennis player
  • Rafael Nadal
    Rafael Nadal
    Spanish tennis player
Nick Kyrgios says it would be a 'disaster' if Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer were all absent from the 2022 Australian Open. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images for Laver Cup)
Nick Kyrgios says it would be a 'disaster' if Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer were all absent from the 2022 Australian Open. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images for Laver Cup)

Australian tennis firebrand Nick Kyrgios says an Australian Open without at least one of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer would be a 'disaster' for fans.

The 'Big Three' could all potentially miss the season opening grand slam at Melbourne Park for various reasons, with Federer already ruled out of the tournament.

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The Swiss fan favourite has already announced he will not be able to play in Melbourne, with his recovery from his third knee surgery in the last 12 months expected to keep him off the court until late in 2022.

Nadal has a question mark over him as the tournament approaches after the Spanish star tested positive for Covid-19 after playing an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi earlier this month.

Several other Australian Open hopefuls, including the likes of world No.5 Andrey Rublev and Canadian star Denis Shapovalov have also tested positive after competing in Abu Dhabi. 

Additionally, it remains to be seen whether or not world No.1 Novak Djokovic will be allowed to play, with his Covid-19 vaccinations status still a complete unknown.

If Djokovic is not vaccinated or is unable to obtain a medical exemption from the Victorian state government, he will not be permitted to play.

With all this in mind, even Kyrgios could admit that the absence of Djokovic would not be a good thing for the sport, despite the somewhat acrimonious history between the pair.

“I hope he’s had a good Christmas and I hope he’s able to play in the sport for as long as possible, because I’ve voiced before I think Federer, Nadal and Djokovic need to be there," Kyrgios told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“If all three aren’t there, it’s a disaster. It’s an absolute disaster for the fans and the people that enjoy tennis.

“Yes, it’s obviously a good opportunity for some of the younger guys to come through and make an impact but, as a whole, we do need them to be part of the sport.”

The Abu Dhabi exhibition outbreak has also had a major impacts on the women's draw as well, with Belinda Bencic, Ons Jabeur and Emma Raducanu all returning positive tests in the aftermath.

Tennis Australia rejects Novak Djokovic claim

Tennis Australia has dismissed reports that Djokovic has withdrawn from the ATP Cup in Sydney, insisting the World No.1 is still entered to play the season-opening event starting Saturday.

Serbian publication Blic reported last week that Djokovic won't travel to Sydney to play the teams event, throwing his participation at the Australian Open into further doubt.

The publication quoted a source close to Djokovic's team, who reportedly said: "It is 99 per cent sure that Novak won't go to the ATP Cup".

However Tennis Australia rejected those reports on Tuesday, saying they hadn't received word of any withdrawals.

"No withdrawals from Team Serbia," a Tennis Australia spokesperson told The Age.

Djokovic has been named in Serbia's team for the ATP Cup, which will take place from January 1-9 ahead of the Australian Open on January 17.

Novak Djokovic's entry to Sydney's ATP Cup has not yet been withdrawn, despite reports from Serbia suggesting he would pull out. (Photo by Oscar Gonzalez/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Novak Djokovic's entry to Sydney's ATP Cup has not yet been withdrawn, despite reports from Serbia suggesting he would pull out. (Photo by Oscar Gonzalez/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

But according to The Age, Tennis Australia couldn't confirm when Djokovic would arrive in Sydney.

The 34-year-old has yet to commit to the Australian Open following the Covid-19 vaccination mandate agreed by Tennis Australia and the Victorian Department of Health.

Djokovic has repeatedly declined to disclose whether or not he is vaccinated, citing privacy concerns.

Australian Open organiser Craig Tiley said all players and staff at the Australian Open would be vaccinated or have a medical exemption granted by an independent panel of experts.

Those requirements have prevented Djokovic from confirming whether he will bid for a men's record 21st grand slam title and a 10th Australian Open crown.

"Everyone who is coming in is vaccinated and there will be a small percentage - a very small percentage - that will have a medical exemption," Tiley said.

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