Australian Open


The Australian Open cannot press its country’s government into allowing Novak Djokovic to play in January’s opening Grand Slam event of 2023, says tournament director Craig Tiley.

Nine-time winner Djokovic, who is unvaccinated against Covid-19, is banned from re-entering Australia until 2025 after he was deported this year.

The Australian government can waive the ban at its discretion.

“It’s not a matter we can lobby on,” said Tiley.

“Novak and the federal government need to work out the situation and then we’ll follow any instruction after that.

“It’s a matter that definitely stays between the two of them and then depending on the outcome of that we would welcome him to the Australian Open.”

Former world number one Djokovic, a 21-time Grand Slam champion, also missed this year’s US Open because of his vaccination status, following his victory at Wimbledon in the summer.

Australia’s former Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said this week she was opposed to the government lifting Djokovic’s ban, saying it would be a “slap in the face” for Australians who have been vaccinated.

Meanwhile, Russian and Belarusian players will be allowed to compete in Melbourne, although Russian players will not be allowed to represent their country.

“They cannot participate in any activity such as the anthem of Russia and they have to play as independent players under a neutral name,” said Tiley.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Russian and Belarusian players are banned from international team competitions.

But despite Wimbledon’s ban they were permitted to compete as neutral athletes at both this year’s French Open and US Open.

Rafael Nadal made his career-best start of the season at Majors after conquering the Australian Open and Roland Garros. Nadal played only two matches after the last year’s Roland Garros and made a fresh start in 2022. Rafa won his first Australian Open crown since 2009, overpowering a couple of challenging obstacles and lifting the 21st Major crown.

Nadal had to give his everything in the quarter-final against Denis Shapovalov, prevailing 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3 in four hours and eight minutes at Rod Laver Arena. The Spaniard struggled with stomach issues since the fourth set and barely survived a challenging encounter under a boiling Melbourne sun.

The more experienced player claimed the opening three games of the decider to forge the crucial advantage and bring the victory home. As was expected, Rafa praised Denis and his fighting abilities after the match, saying it was tough and that he left the court completely destroyed.

Nadal lost four kilos and looked forward to two days off. The Spaniard served on a high level in the opening two sets and delivered two breaks to forge a massive advantage. Shapovalov raised his level in set number three and grabbed a late break to introduce the fourth set and improve his chances.

Nadal needed a timeout to deal with the stomach pain, taking pills and hoping to feel better. Denis broke in the fourth game and saved break points at 5-3 to wrap up the set and force a decider.

Rafael Nadal gave his everything to beat Denis Shapovalov in Melbourne.

The Canadian failed to seize that momentum at the start of the decider.

He squandered his chances in games one and three and got broken at 0-1 to find himself on the wrong side of the clock. Rafa served well in the rest of the encounter to emerge at the top and find himself in the semi-final. “Honestly, I do not know how I won this one.

I’m completely destroyed at the moment. I was a bit lucky at the beginning of the fifth set, bringing the win home from there. I played great in the opening two sets and then struggled against a strong rival. Denis is very talented and serves and plays with a lot of aggression.

It feels great to be back in the semi-final. I have two days off now, which is crucial at this event stage. I’m not 21 anymore, and it’s great for me to have more time for rest after such a demanding marathon,” Rafael Nadal said.