Novak Djokovic Undecided Over Playing Australian Open, Slams Speculation Over His Vaccination Status - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic Undecided Over Playing Australian Open, Slams Speculation Over His Vaccination Status

The tennis star says he is ‘irritated’ by some players’ passive attitude to the potential conditions related to the next Grand Slam and has accused the media of spreading fear related to the COVID-19 vaccination.

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Novak Djokovic during a Men's Singles championship match at the 2021 US Open, Sunday, Sep. 12, 2021 in Flushing, NY. (Andrew Ong/USTA)

World No.1 Novak Djokovic says he has concerns over potential rules which may be implemented on players travelling to the Australian Open next year and is not ruling out the possibility of not attending the Grand Slam altogether. 

 

Djokovic, who has won the Melbourne major more times than any other male player in history, has accused some of his peers of not being interested enough in the topic and just accepting any conditions which may be implemented. In an interview with Blic newspaper, the Serbian said he is ‘irritated’ with what he brands as disinterest among players and believes there needs to be more unity on the Tour. 

“I am following the situation around Australia and as far as I understand, the final decision of the Government of Australia and Tennis Australia will be in two weeks, so it is the first or second week of November,” said Djokovic.

“I do not believe that the conditions will change much in relation to what we already know. As was the case this year, there will be plenty of restrictions. What I heard from my manager who is in direct contact with people from the Federation of Australia is that they are trying to improve conditions for everyone. Both for those who have been vaccinated and for those who have not been.”

One of the most worrying issues for the 20-time Grand Slam champion is the prospect of having to be isolated upon arrival in Australia if somebody on his flight tests positive for COVID-19. At this year’s Australian Open dozens of players have to spend 14 days in quarantine after coming in contact with a positive case. Should such rules be implemented again next year, he faces a dilemma of whether to risk going or not. 

“Put a professional athlete in that kind of quarantine so he can’t get out of the room, and then expect him to play on some level, really … Not to mention the increased risk of injury, of which there were many, including me at this year’s Australian Open. If such conditions remain, I think that many players will think very well whether they will go or not.” Djokovic commented. 

Frustration over vaccination obsession 

Novak Djokovic at the 2021 US Open (Garrett Ellwood/USTA)

One of the most uncertain aspects relates to the fate of unvaccinated players wanting to play at the tournament. Recently the Victorian government issued a health mandate requiring essential workers, including athletes, to be vaccinated. Sports minister Martin Pakula recently told the Sports Entertainment Network that he is unsure if unvaccinated players will even be allowed in the country. That decision will be made by the national government who will likely implement extra restrictions on those players should they get the green light. 

Djokovic, who tested positive for COVID-19 in 2020, has previously said he disagreed with the concept of being forced to have a vaccination but has dismissed suggestions that he is an anti-vaxxer. Pressed by Blic about his current vaccination status, he refused to reveal it and instead hit out at the media for their obsession with it.

“Considering all that, I still do not know whether I will play in Melbourne,” he said. “There is excessive speculation, from the media as well, which bothers me a lot. I have not spoken too much (on vaccination) because everyone was making assumptions based on something I have said a year ago,” he argues.

“Not only in sports, but in the world in general, I am disappointed with the discord being made between the vaccinated and unvaccinated people. If we discriminate against someone because a person wants to make a decision for themselves, whether they want to get vaccinated or not, I think that is horrible… Media is putting pressure on a lot of people. At this moment, there are too many things that are not clear, too much information that is not valid, and then they turn out to be valid, then they are not again. Everything is changing.”

The 34-year-old has also accused the media of ‘spreading fear and panic’ and he does not want to be part of the ‘storm.’ Branding their attitude to the subject as ‘unfriendly.’  

“I have my own stance,” he said. “I won’t disclose whether I am vaccinated or not. It is a private matter, I think it is inappropriate to ask a person that. Too many people allow themselves the freedom to ask and then to judge. Whatever you say – I have, I have not, maybe, I do not know or I am thinking about it – they will use it against you.

“I think the media is spreading fear and panic and I do not want to take part in driving people against each other. I feel that the general media attitude is unfriendly so I do not want to give anyone the reason to write about me. Your editors can take what I have just said and turn it into a scandal. I do not want to be a part of that storm.”

Whilst Djokovic’s Australian Open presence is in doubt, there is clarity concerning his plans for the rest of this year. After taking a break following his loss in the final of the US Open to Daniil Medvedev, he is set to return to competition at the Paris Masters which will start on November 1st. He will also play the ATP Finals in Turin followed by the Davis Cup. 

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Rafael Nadal To Skip ATP Cup Ahead Of Australian Open

Where will the former world No.1 play his first tournament of 2022?

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WASHINGTON, USA - August 4: Rafael Nadal of Spain at the Citi Open Tennis Tournament at the Rock Creek Park Tennis Center on August 4, 2021 in Washington, USA (Photo by Peter Staples)

20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal will not be starting his season at the ATP Cup in Australia, according to a leading sports newspaper.

 

Marca has reported that the former world No.1 has opted to not play in the team event which is set to get underway on January 1st. Nadal is currently on the comeback from a foot injury and hasn’t played a competitive match on the Tour since August. Next month he will return to action in Abu Dhabi at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship which is an exhibition event.

“I am very happy to be back at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi,” Nadal said in a video released earlier this week. “I hope to see you soon there.”

It is understood that due to his off-season schedule Nadal has chosen to pass on the team event but it is unclear as to what or if he will play in any other events leading up to the Australian Open which will begin on January 17th. Besides the ATP Cup, four ATP 250 events will be staged in the lead up to the Grand Slam.

The 35-year-old isn’t the only top Spanish name set to miss the ATP Cup. It has also been reported that rising star Carlos Alcaraz and Marcel Granollerswill not be playing as they intend to arrive in Australia at a later date. Instead the team will be headed by Roberto Bautista Agut and Pablo Carreno Busta. Unlike the Davis Cup, the ATP Cup offers both ranking points and prize money to players.

Nadal has won 24 out of 29 matches played on the Tour this year before ending his season due to injury. He won the Italian Masters and Barcelona Open to increase his career ATP title tally to 88. In the majors he reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open and the semi-finals of the French Open.

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Next Generation Of Players ‘Not Moving The Needle For Tennis,’ Claims McEnroe

The former tennis player and Davis Cup captain voices his concerns about the men’s game.

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Daniil Medvedev and Jannik Sinner pictured at the 2021 ATP Finals (image Via ATP)

Tennis faces an issue with the younger generation of the men’s game unable to sell the amount of tickets in comparison to that of the big three, according to one former Grand Slam champion.

 

Patrick McEnroe, who won the 1989 French Open doubles title, says the younger players are ‘not moving the needle’ for the sport compared to what Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have done. Three greats of the game who between them have won 60 Grand Slam titles and have spent more than 850 weeks as world No.1. Although with all of the trio being above the age of 30, many are wondering how the future of the sport will fair when they retire.

Speaking to The New York Times, 55-year-old McEnroe cites the US Open as an example of the next generation being unable to attract enough fans when compared to the Big Three. This year’s tournament took place without Nadal and Federer due to injury. However, Djokovic reached the final before losing to Daniil Medvedev.

“The larger issue for tennis if I put on my ESPN hat and former U.S.T.A. hat is that, let’s be honest, these young guys at the moment are not moving the needle for tennis the same way the older guys have,” he said. “They are not selling tickets the first week of the U.S. Open the same way that Nadal, Federer and Djokovic have been doing.”

Following his loss to Alexander Zverev at the ATP Finals on Sunday, world No.2 Daniil Medvedev said he is confident that the future of men’s tennis is in good hands. The 25-year-old Russian won his first major title earlier this year in Flushing Meadows and reached the final of the Australian Open.

When there was [Bjorn] Borg and [John] McEnroe, when they were close, finished their careers, everybody was like, ‘tennis is over, we won’t ever have any great players, it is finished,” Medvedev said.
“We did have some: [Pete] Sampras, [Andre] Agassi, they were at the top. [When] Sampras retired, [people were saying] ‘okay, tennis is over’.
“Then we had Novak, Roger and Rafa. If you asked just before they came, everybody would say, ‘well, tennis will not be interesting anymore’.
“It’s the same here. Tennis is a great sport, so I don’t see why our generation would miss on something.”

In the ATP’s year-end top 10 for 2021 eight out of 10 entrants are under the age of 25. The only exceptions are 34-year-old Djokovic and 35-year-old Nadal. Furthermore, seven out of the eight Masters 1000 events this year was won by different players which could be the start of a changing landscape on the Tour.

According to McEnroe, one player who he believes is destined to win a major title is Zverev who has won more matches (59) and ATP titles (six) than any other player this year. The German is the first male player from his country to end a year in the world’s top three since Boris Becker back in 1994.

“I feel like it’s inevitable Zverev is going to win a major,” said former Davis Cup captain McEnroe. “I’ve been saying for a couple years that he’s been knocking on the door. Now he’s banging on it.”

Zverev has played in 25 Grand Slam main draws so far in his career but he only reached the final once. That was during the 2020 US Open where he had a two-set lead over Dominic Thiem before losing in a five-set marathon.

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The 10 Highest-Earning ATP Players of 2021

37 men on the ATP Tour have earned more than $1M in prize money this year but who has made it into the top 10?

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If the 10 highest paid players on the ATP Tour put their 2021 earnings together it would exceed more than $40M and that doesn’t take into account what they have made away from the court via endorsements or other business activities.

 

A total of 37 men has crossed the $1M mark in prize money winnings this year which is nine more than the women’s WTA Tour who operate their own financial structure. Out of that group only one man has managed to make more money in doubles than singles to reach the milestone. That was France’s Pierre-Hugues Herbert who made $619,550 against $449,421.

11 men surpassed the $2M mark with Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime narrowly missing out on a place in the top 10 by $89,907. So who has made the most this year and how have they done it?

UbiTennis looks at the on-court earnings of the world’s best players based on data from the ATP. The figures are in US$ and don’t take into account other factors such as endorsements.

10) Jannik Sinner

Total earnings: $2,233,199
Prize money breakdown: SINGLES – $2,159,534 DOUBLES $73,665
ATP Matches won: 46
ATP titles won: 4
Year-end ranking: 10

Italy’s Jannik Sinner is the youngest player on the list at the age of 20. His earnings this season equates to almost two thirds of what he has earned during his entire professional career ($3,623,450). In 2021 the rising star won three ATP 250 titles and one 500 event in Washington. He also reached his first-ever Masters 1000 final in Miami which he lost to Hurkacz. On the other hand, he has experienced mixed results in the Grand Slams with two first round losses and two fourth round runs.

Sinner is the youngest player to finish a season inside the world’s top 10 since Juan Martin del Potro back in 2008.

9) Hubert Hurkacz

Total earnings: $2,313,289
Prize money breakdown: SINGLES – $2,173,247 DOUBLES – $140,042
ATP Matches won: 36
ATP titles won: 3
Year-end ranking: 9

Poland’s Hurkacz has achieved a series of firsts in his career this year. Prior to 2021, the 24-year-old had only ever won one ATP 250 title and never reached the second week of a major tournament. This changed in April when he stunned the field to win the Miami Masters whilst seeded 26th in the draw. Scoring back-to-back wins over top 10 players for the first time. A couple months later Hurkacz became the first male player from his country to reach the semi-finals at Wimbledon since 2013. He also won hard court titles in Delray Beach and Metz.

Hurkacz is the first Polish man in ATP rankings history to finish a season inside the top 10.

8) Casper Ruud

Total earnings: $2,314,629
Prize money breakdown: SINGLES – $2,230,592 DOUBLES – $84,037
ATP Matches won: 55
ATP titles won: 5
Year-end ranking: 8

Norway’s own king of clay Casper Ruud has blossomed on the Tour this season. During the summer he became the first player since Andy Murray in 2011 to win three ATP titles within as many weeks. The trio of titles during July came a couple months after he won another clay-court event in Geneva, Switzerland.

Clearly Ruud is at his most comfortable on the dirt but he has also produced some strong results on the hard courts. In February he reached the fourth round of the Australian Open which is his best performance at a Grand Slam to date. More recently, he won his first ATP title on the surface at the San Diego Open. Another sign of Ruud’s consistency this season is the fact he has reached the quarter-finals or better in five out of six Masters 1000 tournaments he has played in this year.

He is the first Norwegian to finish in the year-end top 10 on the ATP Tour.

7) Cameron Norrie

Total earnings: $2,623,881
Prize money breakdown
: SINGLES – $2,518,782 DOUBLES – $105,099
ATP Matches won: 50
ATP titles won: 2
Year-end ranking: 12

British talent Norrie started the year ranked outside the top 70 but has surged up the rankings since then. He has featured in the final of no fewer than six tournaments this year across three different surfaces. It was in the Mexican city of Los Cabos where he won his maiden trophy. However, that achievement was later surpassed by his unexpected run to the title in Indian Wells which is one of the biggest tournaments outside of the majors.

Norrie has recorded a career-best 50 wins this season and has recorded two wins over top 10 players – Dominic Thiem in Nice and Andrey Rublev in San Diego.

6) Matteo Berrettini

Total earnings: $3,231,908
Prize money breakdown: SINGLES – $3,201,126 DOUBLES – $30,782
ATP Matches won: 41
ATP titles won: 2
Year-end ranking: 7

Berrettini’s season came to a heartbreaking conclusion after he was forced to pull out of the ATP Finals in his home country due to injury. However, prior to that the Italian can take comfort in what has been another breakthrough season for him. It was on the Grass where Berrettini achieved his biggest success by winning the Queen’s title before going on to reach his first major final at Wimbledon.

Known for his thunderous forehand, the 25-year-old also achieved new milestones on the clay by reaching his first Masters 1000 final in Madrid. A couple weeks after Madrid, he won the Belgrade Open. Overall, he reached the quarter-final or better in three out of the four Grand Slam events.

Berrettini is the first Italian man in history to finish a season inside the top 10 on three separate occasions.

5) Andrey Rublev

Total earnings: $3,331,378
Prize money breakdown: SINGLES – $3,131,467 DOUBLES – $199,911
ATP Matches won: 49
ATP titles won: 1
Year-end ranking: 5

Rublev is the only player on the list to not win multiple titles this season. His sole triumph took place back in March when he won the Rotterdam Open. Although since then he has also reached the final of two Masters 1000 events as well as a 500 tournament in Halle. In the majors he achieved a win-loss record of 9-4 which his best result being a run to the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.

Among the 10 highest earners this year, Rublev has won the most when it comes to playing doubles ($199,911). Alongside compatriot Aslan Karatsev they won the Qatar Open and reached the final in Indian Wells. Rublev also won gold in the mixed doubles with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova at the Tokyo Olympics but prize money isn’t awarded at that event.

4) Stefanos Tsitsipas

Total earnings: $3,579,155
Prize money breakdown: SINGLES – $3,503,608 DOUBLES – $75,547
ATP Matches won: 55
ATP titles won: 2
Year-end ranking: 4

Prior to being forced to pull out of his last tournament of the year due an elbow injury, Tsitsipas has enjoyed a mainly successful season on the Tour. The Greek has reached the semi-final stage or better in nine tournaments he has played in, including both the Australian Open and French Open. It was at Roland Garros where he played in first major final and led Djokovic by two sets before losing in five.

Overall, Tsitsipas has reached five ATP finals, winning titles at the Monte-Carlo Masters and Lyon Open. However, all of his final appearances took place during the first half of 2021 and he hasn’t defeated a top 10 player during the second half.

Nevertheless, he closes out 2021 with a year-end best ranking of fourth.

3) Alexander Zverev

Total earnings: $6,420,344
Prize money breakdown: SINGLES – $6,361,173 DOUBLES – $59,171
ATP Matches won: 59
ATP titles won: 6
Year-end ranking: 3

Zverev tops the 2021 leaderboard when it comes to most matches won (59) and most titles (six). However, he still hasn’t been able to rise to the top of the highest-earning players. The German saw a surge in his prize money last week where he won the ATP Finals which earned him an impressive $2,143,000.

This season Zverev has triumphed at two ATP 500 events, two Masters tournaments, won a gold medal at the Olympics and claimed the ATP Finals trophy. These achievements enabled him to become the first German player since Boris Becker back in 1994 to finish a season inside the world’s top three.

Against top 10 opposition, the 24-year-old had a winning record of 12-8.

2) Daniil Medvedev

Total earnings: $7,481,271
Prize money breakdown: SINGLES -$7,466,284 DOUBLES -$14,987
ATP Matches won: 58
ATP titles won: 4
Year-end ranking: 2

More than a third of Medvedev’s earnings this year is from just one tournament. His triumph over Novak Djokovic at the US Open earned the Russian a $2.5M payout. To put that into perspective, only six other ATP players have managed to earn more than this amount throughout the entire season.

Medvedev also won two 250 titles, as well as the Canadian Open. He finished runner-up at the Australian Open, Paris Masters and ATP Finals. Against top 10 opposition, he won 10 out of 15 matches played.

As a result of his success, Medvedev is the first Russian man since 2000 to finish a season ranked inside the world’s top two.

1) Novak Djokovic

Total earnings: $9,100,547
Prize money breakdown: SINGLES – $9,069,225 DOUBLES – $31,322
ATP Matches won: 51
ATP titles won: 5
Year-end ranking: 1

Djokovic has played in 12 just tournaments this season but it is his success at the majors which has elevated him to the honour of the highest-earning player in men’s tennis this year. By winning three out of the four Grand Slams he made roughly $6M alone. On top of that, Djokovic also won the second Belgrade Open and the Paris Masters.

The world No.1’s surge this year further cements his position as the highest-earning tennis player in history when it comes to prize money. His tally now stands at $154,756,726 which is over $24M more than his nearest rival (Roger Federer has made $130.5M).

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