Nick Kyrgios to compete in Aus Open warm-up tournament

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Nick Kyrgios’ path to the Australian Open appears to be mapped out, with the Australian accepting a generic entry for a Sydney warm-up event as the Melbourne Grand Slam braces for a glut of star-studded omissions.

Kyrgios, now ranked 93rd in the world after a calm 2021 season that saw him play just 15 games, will compete in the Sydney Tennis Classic from January 10.

It will be the former world number 13’s last hit before the Australian Open, which is set to continue despite the current wave of COVID-19 across the country and proposed vaccine exemptions for some of the top international players.

Eighteen of the 24 best women in the world, including world number one Ashleigh Barty, will prepare for the Sydney Open Tennis Classic, as will Australian number one Alex de Minaur.

Local pair Alex Bolt and Thanasi Kokkinakis, as well as fit Western Australia’s Storm Sanders, received wildcards for Adelaide International from January 2.

“I’ve trained at home in Canberra and here in Sydney and I’m feeling great after a long break,” said Kyrgios, who will start the year as Australia’s sixth player.

“I look forward to the last hit before OA, thanks to Tennis Australia for the opportunity to play.”

Injuries and the reluctance to travel during the COVID-19 pandemic have contributed to the drop of Mercurial talent in the rankings.

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But its box office at Melbourne Park next month is shaping up to be as crucial as ever given the uncertainty surrounding the status of the sport’s biggest names.

Topping the list is Novak Djokovic, who is aiming for a men’s record, the 21st Grand Slam title and a tenth Australian Open crown.

The 34-year-old has yet to commit to the Australian Open following the COVID-19 vaccination mandate agreed to by Tennis Australia and the Victorian Department of Health.

Djokovic has repeatedly refused to disclose whether or not he was vaccinated, citing confidentiality concerns.

The Serbian is expected to lead his country’s charge in the ATP Cup from January 1 in Sydney, with Tennis Australia this week denying European press claims he has stepped down.

Defeated 2020 finalist Dominic Thiem withdrew from the Australian Open on Tuesday citing a wrist injury, joining 20-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer (knee) on the top injury list level.

Rafael Nadal, 20-time title winner, current world number five Andrey Rublev and Denis Shapovalov (14) have contracted the coronavirus and may be questionable participants.

On the women’s side, Serena Williams, Karolina Pliskova and Bianca Andreescu will not be in Melbourne, while Olympic champion Belinda Bencic and US Open winner Emma Raducanu have also contracted the coronavirus, casting doubt on their participation.

AAP / ABC Sport

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