World number one Novak Djokovic will not appear for Serbia at the ATP Cup in Sydney, which begins this weekend. The news will add further doubt to Djokovic’s participation at the Australian Open later in January.

Reports in Serbia last week indicated that Djokovic was “99% certain” to miss the team event in Sydney although organizers had insisted as recently as Tuesday that he was still registered among the participants.

That changed with an ATP statement on Wednesday which confirmed that the 34-year-old would miss the event. Serbia will still compete as a team despite the absence of their talisman. 

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The news means that Djokovic’s presence at the Australian Open, which kicks off on January 22, will be in more doubt.

Only fully vaccinated players are allowed to compete in Melbourne unless granted a medical exemption.

Djokovic has not yet revealed his vaccine status but has consistently spoken about freedom of choice on the issue.

The Serb is a record nine-time champion Down Under and would be bidding to win an unprecedented 21st Grand Slam title should he play at the tournament.

It was also confirmed on Wednesday that defending ATP Cup champions Russia would be without Andrey Rublev for the event after the world number five tested positive for Covid while in Barcelona.

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Russia’s Aslan Karatsev and Evgeny Donskoy have also pulled out, meaning Evgeny Karlovskiy will join the team. Russian world number two Daniil Medvedev is in Australia and is set to play.

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