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Australian Open 2021
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Japan’s Naomi Osaka walks into Margaret Court Arena for her second round singles match against China’s Zheng Saisai at the Australian Open 2020 tennis tournament in Melbourne. Photo: Andy Brownbill

Naomi Osaka, Novak Djokovic booked for Australian Open, Serena Williams out on ‘medical advice’

  • Serena Williams will not contest the women’s draw, with the seven-time Australian Open champion bowing out on advice from her medical team
  • World No 1 Ash Barty will attempt to become the first local player to win an Australian Open singles title in 44 years

Ash Barty and Novak Djokovic headline a stellar player field set to compete at Melbourne Park for Australian Open 2022, the first grand slam event of the season, but two of the sport’s biggest names are noticeably absent.

World No 41 Serena Williams will not contest the women’s draw, with the seven-time Australian Open champion withdrawing on advice from her medical team. On the men’s side, 16th-ranked Roger Federer is out as he continues rehabilitation following knee surgery.

“While this is never an easy decision to make, I am not where I need to be physically to compete,” Williams said in a statement.

“Melbourne is one of my favourite cities to visit and I look forward to playing at the AO every year. I will miss seeing the fans, but am excited to return and compete at my highest level.”

Tennis Australia on Wednesday released its list of official competitors in the event, with defending champion Djokovic to vie for his 10th Australian Open trophy and a men’s record 21st major singles title.

The nine-time Australian Open champion is tied with Federer and Rafael Nadal for the men’s record of 20 grand slam singles titles. Despite being non-committal about his coronavirus vaccination status, the 34-year-old was this week named in the Serbia team for the ATP Cup, to be held in Sydney in early January.

Australia’s strict regulations will require all players, officials and fans to be fully vaccinated for the January 17-30 tournament

Djokovic to lead team Serbia at Sydney’s ATP Cup in January

Nadal enters the Australian Open list at number six. Defending champion Osaka is listed at No 13, one place below 2020 champion Sofia Kenin, and will target a fifth career major singles title.

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China’s Zheng Saisai makes the Australian Open list along side Wang Xinyu and Zhang Shuai.

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