Novak Djokovic is welcome at Australian Open, says tournament director; Russian and Belarusian players can compete in men’s qualies too
The Australian Open’s chairman, Craig Tiley, has signed a letter urging an immediate change-of-venue for the men’s qualies following the news that Novak Djokovic will be in Melbourne for the tournament.
The announcement, that Djokovic will be in Melbourne next September to play Nadal for the first time since 2010, means only one player can now be seeded directly through to the men’s final at Melbourne Park.
It has been reported that an agreement has been struck with the Russian authorities to allow Alexander Zverev, the top-seeded qualifier, to compete as a seeded player in the men’s qualies.
That is a significant change from the policy imposed at the start of the year, when Djokovic and defending champion Andy Murray refused to play their first-round matches at all on the grounds that they might be used in the women’s final.
Tiley signed the letter to the Australian government, which has been sent to the Federal Court as the deadline for the change of venue – and as part of it, the men’s and women’s grand slams have been switched over to the Melbourne Park.
After a phone call with the FEDER, which is an organisation set up by the Australian Government and funded by Sport Australia and the state-based Australian Tennis Association, Tiley said that while he would have preferred that it could have been the men’s and women’s grand slams, the change of venue has been agreed to so that Djokovic can play a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in his career.
“The Australian Open is a very important tournament to the tennis community around the globe,” Tiley said.
“The first Grand Slam of 2017 will be played in Melbourne and, although we wish it could have been the men’s and women