The participation of Novak Djokovic at the 2022 Australian Open continues to remain in doubt after the world number one pulled out of the ATP Cup scheduled to begin on Saturday in Sydney. Victoria's strict vaccination rule will be in place for the season's first Grand Slam and Djokovic's reluctance to make public his vaccination status could see him miss the tournament.

The Serb was expected to play the tournament in Sydney before deciding whether to take part at the Australian Open. If he is not vaccinated against Covid-19, he will need a medical exemption. Djokovic has made it clear that information about his vaccination status remains a personal matter and he will not address it publicly.

Dusan Lajovic, who will lead Serbia in the ATP Cup challenge in the absence of Djokovic, confirmed his absence and stated that the Serb is trying his best to make it to Melbourne for the Australian Open. The 20-time men's singles Grand Slam champion is said to be waiting on a decision from the Victorian government about his eligibility.

"Unfortunately he's not able to come here, but, you know, he was I think hoping, same as we did, that somehow he will be here. Unfortunately he's not, and we've got to deal with it," Lajovic said. "I don't know the official reason. Maybe the ATP knows. He just said that he's not coming to the ATP and trying to get to the Australian Open."

Novak Djokovic
Calendar Grand Slam for Novak Djokovic Anne-Christine POUJOULAT/AFP

"I mean, the decision, he said, 'I'm not coming, guys,' to the ATP Cup. We'll see about the Australian Open," he added. "He didn't specify if he's coming or not but that he's waiting for a decision."

Meanwhile, in what is great news for the Australian Open organisers, Rafael Nadal is expected to play at the season's first major after making a full recovery from Covid-19. The Spaniard tested positive on his return from Abu Dhabi following the Mubadala World Tennis Championships, but according to The Age, he is now expected to travel Down Under.

Nadal was a doubt for the first Grand Slam of 2022, but is expected to play a warm-up tournament in Melbourne before deciding whether to compete at the Australian Open. The 13-time French Open winner will not be favourite to lift the title having only returned from a long-term foot injury that hampered him even during his comeback in Abu Dhabi.

Rafael Nadal
Spain's Rafael Nadal won a 10th title in Rome Filippo MONTEFORTE/AFP