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The women's singles draw at the upcoming Australian Open continues to be hit by injuries to star players, with American Jennifer Brady announcing she would not be playing at Melbourne Park.
Brady, who was runner up to Naomi Osaka at this year's grand slam, has pulled out January's event due to a foot injury.
'WILL NEVER KNOW': Fresh Djokovic twist in Aus Open announcement
The 26-year-old has been under an injury cloud since August, when she retired from the Cincinnati Open during her second round match-up against Jelena Ostapenko.
Her withdrawal will come as another blow to tournament organisers, with the likes of Serena Williams, Bianca Andreescu and Karolina Pliskova all having communicated that they will not be playing in Melbourne.
"Get better soon - so sorry you won't be in Oz next year," tweeted Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley.
The tournament is set to begin on January 17.
The men's draw has also been impacted by high profile absentees, most notably Roger Federer, who is continuing his recovery from a knee problem.
It remains to be seen whether or not World No.1 Novak Djokovic will play the Australian Open, with the Serbian champion's Covid-19 vaccination status still unknown.
It is highly unlikely health and tennis officials will grant Djokovic an exemption to play if he is not vaccinated, unless he is able to provide a proper medical exemption.
Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal admits he has no great expectations for his planned grand slam comeback at the Australian Open after an injury-wrecked year.
Nadal missed Wimbledon, the Olympics and the US Open with a persistent left foot ailment and has admitted it's going to be "super-difficult" to return to his best shape for Melbourne Park.
"If things are going well, I'm only going to play one tournament before Australia and these two matches here, so the amount of hours on court at the competitive level before such a tough and demanding tournament like Australia will be not much," Nadal told reporters on Thursday.
"But the main thing is still always the same - be healthy.
"If I am healthy, I still have the interior fire to keep going, and to fight for my goals."
Get better soon @jennifurbrady95 - so sorry you won't be in Oz next year.
— Craig Tiley (@CraigTiley) December 19, 2021
We'll miss you here Jen 😩
Hope you recover well to play the rest of the 2022 season 😊
— JoJo💋🌹 (@JojosTweety) December 19, 2021
Good luck on recovery.
— Nick (@_Nick_Of_Time_) December 20, 2021
NOOO!!! Hope you get well soon, @jennifurbrady95 ! 🦄💜🎾
— Conrad The Unicorn (@conrad_unicorn) December 20, 2021
Sad although not altogether surprising to see Jennifer Brady will miss the @AustralianOpen. The American, who continues to struggle with a foot injury, joins @KaPliskova and Serena Williams on the sidelines #jenniferbrady #karolinapliskova #AustralianOpen https://t.co/D2YyteM81I
— LoveGameTennis (@LoveGame_Tennis) December 19, 2021
Dominic Thiem to make Australian Open call by end of December
Dominic Thiem says he'll skip the Australian Open if he is not happy with his fitness at the end of December as he pulled out of two warm-up tournaments in Sydney.
The 28-year-old Austrian star had just been announced as one of the headline acts at the new, one-off Sydney Classic in the build up to the Open but said on Sunday he was now delaying his trip to Australia and wouldn't be taking part in either the ATP 250 event nor the ATP Cup.
Thiem has been ailing with a wrist injury since the grasscourt Mallorca Championships in June, and missed both Wimbledon and the defence of his US Open title at Flushing Meadows.
Despite not requiring surgery on the damaged wrist, Thiem has been unable to play competitively and experienced a fresh setback this month when he pulled out of last week's exhibition event in Abu Dhabi.
In announcing that decision last week, Thiem said he was "not yet ready to compete at the highest level".
And there was little to inspire confidence on Sunday when he issued an update confirming he would not travel to play in the two events ahead of the Australian Open.
Although Thiem still wants to play at Melbourne Park, where the slam begins on January 17, his prospects are hinging on him feeling significantly more optimistic about his game and fitness in a matter of days.
Thiem wrote: "After speaking to my team, we have decided to return to Austria, instead of flying directly to Australia.
"Unfortunately, I caught a cold [and tested negative for COVID-19] while in Dubai and was unable to practice last week.
"I will therefore not be in the physical condition required to be able to play the ATP Cup and Sydney ATP 250.
"After not competing for the last six months, I can't take the risk of coming back too soon and picking up a further injury.
"Overall, the time I spent in Dubai was great as I've increased the intensity and level of practice and my wrist is almost at 100 per cent.
"My aim is still to play the Australian Open but we will make a final decision about my participation by the end of December."
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