Novak Djokovic is welcome at Australian Open, says tournament director; Russian and Belarusian players can compete at same event, says tennis federation
The Australian Open is scheduled to begin on August 20 and will see the world’s top six players competing in the men’s singles event. Of the top five players, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Roger Federer are guaranteed spots for the Open. The other three spots are a mix of wildcards and qualifiers, but one of them is going to an extraordinary figure – Russia’s 20-year old sensation, 19-year-old Alexander Bubka.
Bubka, who was born in Belarus and has recently come into his own in the Open, is seeded number 17 in men’s singles. The other three seeded players – Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber, Spain’s David Ferrer and France’s David Goffin – are seeded 12, 2 and 15 respectively. Only Federer, at number 2, is guaranteed a place in the second round. No one is guaranteed a top-five placement and the Open could change that.
The Open, which began in Melbourne for the first time in 1968 with just eight entrants, is scheduled to start on a sweltering Sunday afternoon in a scorcher of a day. The tournament has been a hotbed for great tennis players. Novak, who has dominated the Open since his move to the United States, won it in 2012 and again last year. Roger Federer won it in 2009 and 2010. The other two men who have won the Open twice are Jimmy Connors and Bjorn Borg.
The most successful male player in Open history was a 20-year old Czech, František Čermák. Čermák won the Open in 1975 and 1978. He was ranked number 2 in the world at the time he won the Open and he went on to win 10 Grand Slam titles, including the French Open in 1974 and the US Open in 1975. He was also world No 18 in doubles – and he was the second player from the Czechoslovak nation to win the Open. Only two others – Roger Federer and Bjorn Borg – have won both the Open and the French Open.
Another 19-year-old, Andre Agassi, achieved the same in winning the US Open in 1990