Australian Open 2022: Djokovic in — Williams, Andreescu out as Slam draws closer

The sun sets as Serena Williams of the US hits a return against Romania's Simona Halep during their women's singles quarter-final match on day nine...

The first Grand Slam tournament of 2022 will be without more notable champions: 23-time Major winner Serena Williams isn’t fully recovered from her hamstring injury, while Bianca Andreescu has also opted out. Novak Djokovic, a nine-time winner in Melbourne, will participate despite refusing to declare his COVID-19 vaccination status in recent months.

Australian Open 2022 entry draw revealed

Bianca Andreescu of Canada and Serena Williams of the United States during the Women's Final US Open on September 7, 2019 in New York City.
Williams and Andreescu embrace after the 2019 US Open Final, which the latter won in straight-sets

After failing to recover in time for this year’s US Open, 23-time Major champion Serena Williams will miss her second successive Grand Slam as she continues recovering from a freak hamstring injury that prematurely ended her Wimbledon campaign against Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

Although hopeful she could make a comeback down under, having not played since June, this news can’t be particularly surprising. It’s the sixth time the legendary American will have missed back-to-back Major tournaments in an illustrious career appearing to be rapidly winding down.

Having celebrated her 40th birthday in September, she has only completed 17 full matches since losing a three-set US Open semi-final duel last year with beaten finalist Victoria Azarenka.

That day, she sustained a lower leg injury severely impacted her movement and contributed to a drastic performance drop-off, having initially stormed out of the blocks to win the first set 6-1.

Williams, a seven-time winner in Melbourne, has dropped down to world #41 with her inactivity of late. Elsewhere currently sitting in the 40s, is the woman who edged past her in a tense finale to earn US Open glory as a fearless teenager two years ago – Canada’s Bianca Andreescu.

She cited the need to reset and recover from a difficult 2021 season, both physically and mentally. You can read the statement, embedded from Twitter here:

history-chasing Djokovic’s doubts allayed

Serbia's Novak Djokovic holds the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup trophy after beating Russia's Daniil Medvedev to win their men's singles final match...
Djokovic poses for pictures after clinching this year’s Slam with a straight-sets win over Medvedev

After falling agonisingly short at Flushing Meadows, reigning world no. 1 Novak Djokovic will compete in Melbourne as he looks to secure a record 21st Grand Slam trophy to start 2022.

His participation had been flagged as a serious doubt in recent months, given the Serbian’s repeated refusal to publicly declare whether he was vaccinated against COVID-19 or not.

On the issue, Victoria’s deputy premier James Merlino was quoted as saying:

“My view on this is really clear and simple. Everyone’s looking forward to the Australian Open and everyone who will attend – spectators, players, officials, staff – everyone is expected to be fully vaccinated.

They’re the rules. Medical exemptions are just that – it’s not a loophole for privileged tennis players, it’s a medical exemption in exceptional circumstances if you have an acute medical condition.”

Tournament director Craig Tiley announced players would require proof of double-vaccination to compete, or a medical exemption verified by independent experts. The ATP Cup, held in Sydney next month, will feature Serbia and Djokovic was this week named part of the team.

Picture source: Getty Images


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