Organizers’ announcement comes amid speculation about the state of the Serbian tennis champion’s vaccine ahead of the Australian Open.
Novak tennis superstar Djokovic has been sidelined for the Sydney ATP Cup, amid speculation about his vaccination status and whether he will defend his Australian Open title next month.
“Novak Djokovic is the world number one to retire from the 2022 ATP Cup,” organizers said on Wednesday before the start of the tournament on Saturday.
There has been intense speculation about the participation of the Serbian champion in both events. The 34-year-old, who has repeatedly refused to be inoculated against COVID-19, reiterated his position on the freedom to choose to be vaccinated last month.
Tennis Australia, the organizers of the Australian Open, which starts on 17 January, has stated that all participants must be vaccinated against coronavirus or have a medical exemption provided by an independent team of experts.
Djokovic has won a record nine Australian Open titles, including the last three, and is tied for three in 20 major titles with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
His father Srdjan said last month that Djokovic was likely to leave the mainstream on a Serbian TV channel, saying that Tennis Australia’s stance on compulsory vaccination was tantamount to “blackmail”.
Due to Djokovic’s current world rankings, Serbia received the highest turnover for the 16-team ATP Cup event until January 9, and was included in Group A along with Norway, Chile and Spain in the draw this month.
“The Serbian team will now be led by world number 33 Dusan Lajovic,” organizers said.
In the opening ceremony of the season, France, which failed to qualify after the retirement of Dominic Thiem and Dennis Nova, has also been replaced by France.
Russia, last year’s winner, will miss Andrey Rublev and Aslan Karatsev. Instead, Evgeny Karlovskiy will join the team.