Tagged in: number one

Djokovic pulls out of ATP Cup in Sydney

Novak Djokovic has pulled out of the Serbia team for the ATP Cup in Sydney, event organizers said on Wednesday, raising further doubts over whether the world number one will defend his Australian Open title next month.

There has been intense speculation over Djokovic’s participation in both events, with the 34-year-old, who is opposed to COVID-19 vaccinations, repeatedly declining to say if he has been inoculated against the virus.

Organizers of the Australian Open, which starts on Jan. 17, have stipulated that all participants must be vaccinated against the coronavirus or have a medical exemption granted by an independent panel of experts.

“Novak Djokovic has officially withdrawn from the ATP Cup in Sydney, we have no update as yet on his plans for the Australian Open,” a Tennis Australia spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

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“Regarding the medical exemption process, which pertains to all players, there is a rigorous and independent process in place. As with all medical information it is subject to confidentiality.”

The global men’s tennis governing body ATP did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

ATP Cup organizers said Serbia’s team would now be led by world number 33 Dusan Lajovic.

Owing to Djokovic’s current world ranking, Serbia received top billing for the 16-team event, which runs from Jan. 1-9, and have been drawn in Group A along with Norway, Chile and Spain.

Djokovic has won a record nine Australian Open titles, counting the last three, and is in a three-way tie on 20 major titles with Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal in the all-time list.

His father Srdjan told a Serbian television channel last month that Djokovic would probably pull out nL4N2SK0VQ of the major, saying Tennis Australia’s stance on mandatory vaccination was tantamount to “blackmail”.

The season-opening ATP Cup also saw Austria, which failed the eligibility criteria following the withdrawal of Dominic Thiem and Dennis Novak, replaced by France.

Russia, which won the 2021 title, will be missing Andrey Rublev and Aslan Karatsev from that team.

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Max Verstappen will run number one on car as champion in 2022

Max Verstappen has confirmed he will run the number one on his car in 2022 as Formula One world champion, something no driver has done in F1 since 2014.

There has not been a number one car on the F1 grid since Sebastian Vettel’s in 2014, when the Red Bull driver was a defending four-time world champion.

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Since then, Lewis Hamilton has opted to keep his career number 44, while Nico Rosberg retired after winning the championship in 2016, meaning he did not have the chance to run it the following season.

Verstappen, who normally races with number 33, wants to make the switch for 2022.

“Yeah, I will run it,” Verstappen said on the subject. “How many times can you do that? I don’t know, maybe it’s the only time I can in my life.

“I think it’s the best number out there. I will definitely put it on the car.”

Verstappen’s championship was confirmed late on Sunday evening after the FIA dismissed a protest into how the final laps of the race unfolded.

A late safety car period helped Verstappen pit for fresh tyres, with a controversial FIA call to let lapped cars unlap themselves effectively moving Verstappen right up behind Hamilton for the restart.

When that restart took place, Verstappen caught and passed Hamilton and held the lead to claim his maiden championship.

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Rafael Nadal wins 10th Italian Open title with victory over longtime rival Novak Djokovic

Rafa Nadal warmed up for the French Open with a battling 7-5 1-6 6-3 victory over world number one Novak Djokovic as the Spaniard claimed a record-extending 10th Italian Open title in Rome on Sunday in the latest chapter of their rivalry.

After a mid-match wobble, Nadal turned up the heat in the decisive moments of his 57th meeting with top seed Djokovic – the pair’s ninth in Rome – to secure the triumph over the defending champion in two hours and 49 minutes.

“I was lucky in some moments, especially against (Denis) Shapovalov,” Nadal said, referring to the round of 16 match he won in a tiebreak in the decider.

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“And then I think I played a good tournament, I have been playing better and better, finding my rhythm on clay. I had a very positive week and I’m very happy.

“It’s amazing to have this trophy in my hands for the 10th time. It’s something impossible to imagine but it happened so I’m super happy and can’t thank my team enough.”

Nadal broke to go ahead 6-5 in a tight opening set and staved off a late comeback attempt from Djokovic to take the early advantage in the contest with a searing inside-out forehand that caught the Serbian off guard.

But Djokovic, who lost to Nadal in their previous meeting in the Roland Garros final last year, pounced in the second set to race ahead 5-1 as the Spaniard’s intensity dropped and quickly leveled the match at one set apiece.

Second seed Nadal then saved two break points at 2-2 in the decider and fired an emphatic shot down the line to hold, before switching gears to complete the win and match Djokovic’s record of 36 ATP Masters 1000 titles.

Nadal will now target a 14th French Open crown when the claycourt Grand Slam starts on May 30.

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