ATP

Djokovic set for Australian Open? Novak commits to ATP Cup in Sydney

By Sports Desk December 07, 2021

World number one Novak Djokovic has committed to playing the ATP Cup in Sydney amid ongoing uncertainty over his title defence at next month's Australian Open.

Djokovic has been unwilling to confirm his place at January's Australia Open due to the COVID-19 mandate in Victoria.

The state of Victoria, where the year's opening grand slam takes place at Melbourne Park, has introduced a vaccine mandate for professional athletes and across most industries due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Djokovic's father, Srdjan, said the nine-time Australian Open champion is unlikely to feature in Melbourne unless vaccination rules are relaxed.

But in a boost for the slam's organisers, Djokovic was named in top-seeded Serbia's team for the third edition of the ATP Cup, which will take place in Sydney from January 1-9.

"We're excited to host the third edition of the ATP Cup in Sydney in 2022," said ATP Cup tournament director Tom Larner.

"The playing group enjoy representing their countries and to see 18 of the world’s Top 20 players commit to the event is testament to that.

"The event shows off the passion the playing group have for this format and we look forward to welcoming all 16 teams to Sydney later this month."

The 2021 Australian Open went ahead, albeit in February instead of January, and without fans for most of the tournament following a snap lockdown of Melbourne due to COVID-19.

Djokovic – winner of a joint-record 20 grand slam titles – was among the players critical of the conditions athletes endured prior to this year's Australian Open, with strict quarantine measures introduced.

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    Monfils had an uphill struggle amid a sloppy start, with Berrettini breaking to love in the fifth game as the Frenchman committed two unforced errors and a double fault.

    That proved to be the only opportunity Berrettini needed, and he subsequently had few issues seeing out the set from there, though Monfils initially appeared sharper early in the second.

    An astonishing fourth game then left Monfils looking dejected as Berrettini somehow survived 10 deuces to hold serve after almost 20 minutes – the 25 points played here were almost half the first-set total (55).

    Berrettini sensed the mood and went for the kill, losing just two points on serve before going on to close out the set to love.

    A reaction did come, however. Monfils finally got his first break of serve as Berrettini's first double fault gifted him a lifeline, the 35-year-old then easing through the rest of the third set.

    He kept that up in the fourth as well, with two huge forehand winners helping Monfils go a break up to take charge before ultimately levelling the match, but Berrettini had too much in the decider as he broke in the first game.

    Berrettini raced into a 4-0 lead and, although Monfils did pull a couple of games back, the Italian was out of sight and clinched a deserved victory that saw him grab a slice of history.

    DATA SLAM: Berrettini holds his nerve at the crucial moment

    Having lost the previous two sets heading into the decider, it could have been very tempting for Berrettini to completely change up his game, but he remained very focused on accuracy and essentially letting Monfils shoot himself in the foot.

    Berrettini made no double faults and just four unforced errors in the final set, compared to Monfils' combined total of 11, 10 of which came during rallies. The Italian won 80 per cent of his points on serve in the fifth and that mentality was crucial in outlasting his opponent.

    WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

    Berrettini – 51/50

    Monfils – 48/51

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

    Berrettini – 12/2

    Monfils – 15/7

    BREAK POINTS WON

    Berrettini – 4/11

    Monfils – 3/14

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    "The last six months there have been a lot of doubts if I would be able to keep going. But now I feel good. We are in a position that I won a tournament, I'm in the semi-finals of the Australian Open, so that's amazing for me.

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