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If Novak Djokovic Doesn’t Play The Australian Open, Who Stands To Benefit The Most?

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at January 14, 2022

With Novak Djokovic having his visa canceled for a second time and now facing the risk of being deported ahead of the start of the Australian Open on Monday, there are historic implications for him — and for the history of men’s tennis.

Djokovic, 34, sits tied with rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at 20 Grand Slam titles and would be bidding for a record-breaking 21st major title Down Under.

Deportation from Australia usually leads to a three-year ban on returning to the country. That would make Djokovic 37 the next time he would be allowed to compete at the Australian Open, where he has won nine of his 20 majors, including the last two.

Djokovic would still have future chances to win his 21st major but his path could be complicated by the vaccine mandates in France, the United Kingdom and the U.S. In the U.S., for example, vaccines are now required for international travelers coming into the country.

As for this Australian Open, if Djokovic is deported he would either be replaced in the draw by a lucky loser, or the seeds would be reshuffled.

So who stands to benefit the most if Djokovic is out of the draw?

Per, No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev (+180) is actually the favorite even with Djokovic (+210) in the draw, followed by No. 3 Alexander Zverev (+335) and No. 6 Nadal (+950).

Zverev, who beat Djokovic en route to Olympic gold last summer and also beat him at the ATP Finals in November, and Nadal, as well as Wimbledon semifinalists Denis Shapovalov and Hubert Hurkacz, and Australian Open semifinalist Aslan Karatsev, the No. 18 seed, are all on the top half of the draw.

“Nadal had a good win last week in Melbourne and he’s in pretty good form so a Nadal-Djokovic semifinal, that’s what it is on paper but it remains to be seen if we’re going to get that,” ESPN’s Darren Cahill said on SportsCenter.

Nadal, too, is bidding for a record 21st major title but his own draw is tough.

The 35-year-old Spaniard starts with American Marcos Giron and could face Thanasi Kokkinakis, the Aussie wild card, in the second round. Big-hitting Russian Karen Khachanov may stand in Nadal’s way in the third round, before a potential round of 16 match with Hurkacz, who is coming off an impressive 2021 and reached a career-high ranking of No. 9 and is now No. 10.

Zverev, who has defeated Nadal in their last two hard court matches, is the projected quarterfinalist.

Nadal has never beaten four top 10 players en route to winning a major and if he wants to make history this month, he will have to do it the hard way.

On the bottom half of the draw is Medvedev, who crushed Djokovic in the U.S. Open final last fall to spoil his bid to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to capture the calendar Grand Slam.

Medvedev, who faces Swiss Henri Laaksonen first, is aiming for back-to-back Australian Open finals after losing to Djokovic last year, and a second straight major title after his breakthrough in New York. A potential blockbuster awaits Medvedev in the second round against Nick Kyrgios – who opens against a qualifier.

No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas, who was critical of Djokovic’s decision not to get vaccinated — “It makes the majority look like they are all fools” — is also on the bottom half of the draw.

Ahead of last year’s U.S. Open, Medvedev said his goal — and the goal of everyone else who might face Djokovic — was to beat him and prevent him from winning his record-setting 21st major.

“Yeah, well since I’m here I want to say I’m going to try my best to keep it at 20 for all of them,” Medvedev said. “Tennis is about winning tournaments and winning matches, [Djokovic] is very good at it so I’m sure Novak wants 45 Slams and [to] play until [he’s] 55.

“But we are here to try to keep up his level and beat him.”

Now they may be trying to keep up their level and win without him.


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