Andy Murray suffered defeat in the second round of the Rotterdam Open as he fell in straight sets to Felix Auger-Aliassime, while Andrey Rublev and Stefanos Tsitsipas progressed. 

Murray, who triumphed at this tournament in 2009, battled past Alexander Bublik in his opening match but struggled to replicate that form against Auger-Aliassime on Thursday. 

The Scot was never in control against the world number nine, who will face Murray's fellow Briton Cameron Norrie in the quarter-final, as he was downed 6-3 6-4 by the third seed. 

"From the start of the match I was ready and focused and I think that is why I was able to produce a high level from the first point," Auger-Aliassime said on court after his victory.  

"He made me bring out my best tennis and I am really happy with the way I played and that I was able to stay ahead. [To] win in straight sets is a great relief." 

Top seed Tsitsipas, who was a beaten semi-finalist in this event last year, made light work of Ilya Ivashka as he raced to a 6-4 6-1 triumph in just one hour and 11 minutes to tee up a last-eight meeting with Alex de Minaur. 

Reigning champion Rublev cruised past Soonwoo Kwon in similar fashion with a 6-3 6-3 win to secure his seventh straight victory at the ATP 500 tournament. 

Meanwhile, qualifier Jiri Lehecka recovered from a first-set scare against Botic van de Zandschulp to succeed 1-6 6-4 6-4, with Lorenzo Musetti awaiting the Czech in the next round. 

Defending Rotterdam Open champion Andrey Rublev and world number four Stefanos Tsitsipas won through their opening tests, but Denis Shapovalov will not be in round two.

Rublev beat Henri Laaksonen 6-4 6-4 on Tuesday, while top seed Tsitsipas went the distance before edging out Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 7-5 6-7 (1-7) 6-4 after two hours and 39 minutes on the court.

Reflecting on his win, Tsitsipas was full of praise for his opponent, saying: "It was a great battle; he gave me some of the best tennis I have seen him play.

"He was very fired up today and making the best out of every single shot. He was hitting huge winners from behind the baseline. He's one of the best young players who I have played."

However, world number 12 Shapovalov had no such luck, as he slumped to a surprise defeat to Czech qualifier Jiri Lehecka.

The world number 137 saw off the Canadian 6-4 6-4, showing impressive resolve to hold serve at 4-2 in the first set after initially going 0-40 down.

Shapovalov converted just one of 11 break points offered up by Lehecka as he failed to build on an impressive run to the Australian Open quarter-finals last month.

Aslan Karatsev, who won a title in Sydney in January, was another seed to drop out, after his 2-6 7-6 (7-2) 7-6 (7-0) defeat to home favourite Tallon Griekspoor.

Griekspoor has enjoyed some big wins in this tournament in the past, having defeated Stan Wawrinka and Karen Khachanov in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

Khachanov, too, was in action on Tuesday; unlike his Russian compatriot Karatsev, Khachanov took his place in round two with a 6-7 (4-7) 6-1 7-6 (7-6) defeat of Alexei Popyrin.

Lorenzo Musetti and Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp also progressed.

Daniil Medvedev conceded he was out of his mind when he embarked on an extraordinary rant at the chair umpire during his Australian Open win over Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The Russian, who came from two sets down to see off Felix Auger-Aliassime in the last round, roared into a second consecutive Melbourne final as he downed Tsitsipas in a fiery last-four showdown.

Medvedev ultimately triumphed 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 6-4 6-1 to set up a final with Rafael Nadal but it was a contest in which tempers frayed, mostly on US Open champion's side of the net.

Second seed Medvedev felt Tsitsipas' father was coaching from the sidelines and received a warning for his persistent complaining.

He stopped short of accusing Tsitsipas of cheating but explained his mindset at length in the post-match news conference.

Medvedev said: "Cheating, not at all. First of all I got broken - I got a little bit mad. I thought the referee could do a little bit better with the crowd, just to say, 'Quiet please', or something like this. 

"Didn't see him doing that often and I made a terrible double fault, got a code when I was just showing everybody that I'm cramping.

"I cannot toss the ball with my left hand because everybody's screaming, so my serve was terrible.

"To be honest, before every return his father was talking Greek. I don't know, maybe he's saying, 'Come on, come on', there is no problem.

"But then the referee, I asked him if he can talk. He said he can talk but he can't coach. Then I said, 'Do you speak Greek?' 

"If not, the guy is talking, talking, talking. I don't know what he says, but if it's a coach - I don't consider coaching as cheating but it should be a code violation. Then second one would be a bit tricky."

Medvedev branded the umpire "a small cat" in his astonishing on-court outburst.

He added: "You guys are laughing, so I think we can say it was funny, but I was definitely out of my mind. I was not controlling myself anymore about anything.

"That's actually why I'm really happy to win. Many matches like this I would go on to do mistakes - you lose your concentration with things in the heat of the moment. I'm so happy that I managed to catch it really fast."

Medvedev often feels regret after his outbursts, but concedes they sometimes give him the fuel to win.

"I regret it all the time, because I don't think it's nice." he said. "I know that every referee is trying to do their best.

"In tennis we don't fight with the fists but tennis is a fight. It's a one-on-one against another player. 

"So I'm actually really respectful to players who never, almost never show their emotions because it's tough, I can get really emotional. 

"I have been working on it. So many matches I handle it. If we look back at myself five years ago when I started playing, just started playing, there was less attention on me, but I was just insanely crazy.

"I'm working on it. Helps me to win matches, I know. So I do regret it 100 per cent, but again, in the heat of the moment, I just lost it."

Tsitsipas suggested the Russian was lacking in maturity, saying about the rant: "Well, it's for sure funny!

"It's funny. I don't pay attention to the stuff. I know players like to do this stuff to throw you off mentally. Could be maybe a tactic? It is all right, he is not the most mature person anyways."

Of the allegation he received coaching, Tsitsipas replied: "I wasn't - you saw me the other day, losing the score twice in two of my matches. I cannot hear anything when I'm playing. 

"It's impossible. Having the crowd being so loud in every single point, you have to have super hearing to be able to hear what your coach says.

"I'm used to it. They've been targeting me already a long time. The umpires are always paying attention to my box, never paying attention to the opponent's box. 

"Last thing I want is someone giving me tips and giving me advice on what I should do. I'm not the kind of person that would try and listen when out there competing, playing. In practice, maybe."

But Medvedev was reluctant to get into a war of words with Tsitsipas.

He said: "No, I don't want to get too much into this, because again, it was nothing against Stefanos, nothing during this match and I feel like I didn't talk about him. 

"I just talked about the rule, because again, I don't know what his father is saying. Maybe he's just saying, 'Let's go next point'. It's completely allowed. 

"I don't know Greek. Same about the umpire. He should just, I don't know, talk to Stefanos first maybe, [tell him to] say something to your father. 

"If my coach would be talking in French to me before every point, even I would say, 'Stop it. It's not allowed'. So it was only about this."

Tsitsipas revealed he had regularly discussed the topic with his father and ultimately believes coaching should be legalised.

He added: "My father, look, he's a person that when he gets into something when there is a lot of action, his medicine is to talk, and you can't stop it. It's something that he does from nature.

"I've tried, spent countless hours trying to figure it out with him, but it's part of him. 

"Last year I went out publicly on one of my social media platforms and said that I think coaching should be allowed, simply because coaches do it anyways. 

"Most of them get away with it, and they do it pretty smartly, I can tell you."

Daniil Medvedev is convinced Novak Djokovic will be glued to Sunday's Australian Open final, as the men's grand slam record goes on the line once more.

It was Medvedev who denied Djokovic a 21st singles major in the US Open final in September, inflicting a straight-sets defeat on the Serbian who was chasing a sweep of the 2021 grand slams.

Now Medvedev stands in the way of another of the 'Big Three', with Rafael Nadal also chasing a 21st slam and the outright lead on the all-time list.

Djokovic, Nadal and Federer each have 20 grand slam singles titles, and it remains to be seen whether any of that trio triumph again on the big stage, with Medvedev confirming himself as a leader of the upcoming generation.

The deportation of Djokovic from Australia before this tournament caused a major stir, denying the nine-time champion at Melbourne Park a run at history.

And all Djokovic can do is sit and watch from a distance, perhaps hoping for a Medvedev victory.

"I guess last time Rafa was watching near the TV, I don't know who he was cheering for," Medvedev said, harking back to the US Open. "But I think Novak will be watching this one in two days also."

The mention of Djokovic in Medvedev's on-court interview led to rumblings in the crowd, with many Australians having been glad to see him removed from the country when his visa was revoked.

When Djokovic was again mentioned in a follow-up interview with Eurosport, Medvedev said: "I'm definitely not going to think about this before or during the match. After the match, depending on the result, I'm going to think about him a little bit and about Roger probably also."

Medvedev's first taste of a grand slam final was against Nadal at the 2019 US Open, when the Russian lost a five-set thriller.

"We've played a few matches since then, and I'm ready," Medvedev said. "I know Rafa is a very strong player and I will need to show my best to try to win this match."

Medvedev, runner-up to Djokovic in Melbourne last year, aimed an outburst of anger towards umpire Jaume Campistol during the second set of his four-set victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas on Friday.

He was furious at Tsitsipas seemingly being coached by the Greek star's father from the players' box, but Medvedev quickly realised his own behaviour was unhelpful.

"I don't think emotions, bad emotions, help me too much and when I made it, many times I lose the match because of this," he said. "As soon as I did it, I was like, 'That was a big mistake'.

"But I'm happy I managed to re-concentrate for the beginning of the third set."

Having lost the second set, Medvedev snatched a crucial break at the end of the third, before cruising through the fourth to seal a 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 6-4 6-1 victory.

Medvedev said he had felt "so dead" after beating Felix Auger-Aliassime in a near five-hour marathon in the quarter-finals, but his energy has been replenished.

"I'm happy today was not five hours, so I could recover faster for the next one," he said.

"I'm gonna play against one of the greatest, and what's funny is again I'm going to play someone going for the 21st slam."

Before the tussle with Nadal, Melbourne will be gripped by Ash Barty's own pursuit of history, bidding to become the first Australian since Chris O'Neil at the 1978 tournament to land the women's singles title.

Barty faces Danielle Collins on Saturday, and Medvedev, as is his wont, managed to rile some of Friday's crowd by being non-committal on whether he would watch Barty, whose title match begins at 19:30 local time (08:30 GMT).

"I'm usually going to dinner at 8.15pm," Medvedev said.

Urged by on-court interviewer Jim Courier to come up with a different answer, Medvedev added: "I'm going to watch it on my phone guys, I'm going to watch it."

Daniil Medvedev roared into a second consecutive Australian Open final as he downed Stefanos Tsitsipas in a fiery last-four showdown.

The Russian, who came from two sets down to see off Felix Auger-Aliassime in the last round, triumphed 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 6-4 6-1 to set up a final with Rafael Nadal.

The US Open champion improved his head-to-head record with Tsitsipas to 7-2 in a contest where tempers frayed, mostly on Medvedev's side of the net.

He accused Tsitsipas' father of coaching from the sidelines and received a warning for his persistent complaining, but the second seed also managed to channel his aggression into a stellar performance.

The first set went the distance after Tsitsipas, who employed a bold approach in taking the match to Medvedev, fended off three break points when serving at 4-4.

Medvedev was 4-2 down in the tie-break but dug deep to claim it, underlining his mental toughness when backed into a corner.

Tsitsipas maintained his positive attitude and broke in the opening game of the second set, only to surrender that advantage in a sloppy sixth game as his accuracy abandoned him.

It was Medvedev who lost his way at 4-4, though, two double faults and a terribly skewed forehand seeing him lose serve, with Tsitsipas capitalising to seal the set.

Medvedev lost his cool with the umpire, bemoaning supposed coaching from Tsitsipas' father, but it only seemed to fuel him.

With Tsitsipas serving to stay in the set, Medvedev showed his range with a drop-shot winner and double-handed forehand bullet en route to a timely break to reclaim the lead.

And he was at his imperious best in the fourth, producing an array of stunning passing shots as Tsitsipas simply ran out of answers.

Medvedev now has the chance to go one better than last year, when he lost in the final to Novak Djokovic.

DATA SLAM: Medvedev clinical behind first serve

Medvedev had to put a gruelling five-set quarter-final clash behind him on Rod Laver Arena and it did appear to take him some time to find his groove.

But he applied huge pressure with his consistency on his first serve, winning 91 per cent of those points.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Medvedev – 39/28
Tsitsipas – 35/32

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Medvedev – 13/4
Tsitsipas – 5/1

BREAK POINTS WON
Medvedev – 4/12
Tsitsipas – 2/4

Stefanos Tsitsipas revealed he had defied the expectations of his doctor after surging into the Australian Open semi-finals.

The world number four underwent surgery on his right elbow in November and barely had any competitive court time leading into the tournament in Melbourne.

His doctor suggested that taking part in the first grand slam of 2022 was a remote prospect, but the Greek reached the last four on Wednesday after a 6-3 6-4 6-2 win over Jannik Sinner.

"I'm pretty sure my doctor is watching right now," the 23-year-old said in his on-court interview. 

"We both didn't expect for me to be here, it was not part of our plan. He told me he didn't see me playing in Australia but I proved him wrong.

"He's a big tennis enthusiast and I am happy I found the right person to bring me back even stronger."

Tsitsipas outclassed Sinner on Rod Laver Arena to move into a second consecutive Australian Open semi-final and third in four years.

The Greek fourth seed broke early in each set on his way to a third win in four meetings with 11th seed Sinner, who was playing his second grand slam quarter-final.

Not even a brief rain delay that led to the roof being closed early in the second set could slow Tsitsipas, who delivered his best performance of the tournament so far.

"I am very, very happy with the way I served and used my tactics," he said. "Having the crowd support, it is truly unbelievable.

"It is part of the game. You never know what to expect from the weather. I knew I was heading towards the right direction.

"The conditions might have changed a little bit – slightly faster, not as bouncy – so my mind did. I tried to adapt and it just worked."

Tsitsipas will face either Daniil Medvedev or Felix Auger-Aliassime in the semi-finals.

Stefanos Tsitsipas produced a strong performance to brush aside Jannik Sinner and move into his third Australian Open semi-final.

Tsitsipas outclassed the talented 20-year-old from Italy with an impressive 6-3 6-4 6-2 victory on Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday.

The Greek fourth seed broke early in each set on his way to a third win in four meetings with 11th seed Sinner, who was playing his second grand slam quarter-final.

Not even a brief rain delay that led to the roof being closed early in the second set could slow Tsitsipas, who delivered his best performance of the tournament so far.

Tsitsipas will face either Daniil Medvedev or Felix Auger-Aliassime in the semi-finals.

 

Tsitsipas made an impressive start, landing an early break following a pair of forehand errors from Sinner, moving into a 3-0 lead.

Spurred on by a contingent of singing Greek fans, Tsitsipas closed out the opening set, set up by his fast start.

Tsitsipas created another opportunity for an early break in the second set after firing a backhand winner down the line at 30-30 in the third game.

Sinner was unable to deny the Greek star, a backhand cross-court flying wide to hand Tsitsipas the upper-hand.

Not even an unexpected rain delay on a hot and humid day in Melbourne could disrupt Tsitsipas' momentum, with the roof closed after the third game.

Like the first set, there was little pressure on either player's service games, but Tsitsipas' single break was again enough for him to take a two-sets-to-love lead.

A brilliant backhand pass down the line set up break points in the third game of the third set for Tsitsipas, converted when Sinner sent a forehand into the net.

Tsitsipas broke again to take a 4-1 lead on his way to a convincing victory and the semi-finals, starting to find the form to suggest he could be a threat for the title in Melbourne.

 

DATA SLAM: Tsitsipas stays perfect in major quarter-finals

The quarter-finals have proven to be no hurdle for Tsitsipas.

He improved to 5-0 in grand slam quarters, including 3-0 at Melbourne Park. Tsitsipas is playing his fifth Australian Open main draw and has reached the semis three times.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Tsitsipas – 30/28
Sinner – 18/22

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Tsitsipas – 4/2
Sinner – 4/1

BREAK POINTS WON
Tsitsipas – 4/4
Sinner – 0/0

The tennis season has begun with Rafael Nadal, Ash Barty, Paula Badosa and Thanasi Kokkinakis among the champions at small-scale events in Australia.

Yet there has been one dominant story in the sport and little else has had a look-in in the lead-up to the Australian Open.

Now that Novak Djokovic knows his fate, there is the welcome prospect of eyes turning to matters on the tennis court, rather than the Federal Court.

With the action getting under way in Melbourne on Monday, Stats Perform looks at the main protagonists and what the numbers tell us about another high-stakes grand slam.

Djokovic absence blows open men's draw

As defending champion Djokovic heads for home, it is worth a reminder of how he has dominated this tournament.

Nine of his grand slam titles have come in Melbourne, and he has taken the trophy in each of the last three years, helping him cosy up alongside Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 majors, an all-time record they share. Of the 'Big Three', only Nadal is in the draw this year, with Federer currently on the injured list.

Djokovic has the highest win percentage in the Open Era (since 1969) at the Australian Open, among players with 20 or more wins (91.1 per cent – W82 L8). He was hoping to join Nadal (13 French Opens) and Margaret Court (11 Australian Opens) in the exclusive club of players to reach double figures for singles titles at one slam.

The Serb was also aspiring to become the first man in the Open Era to win four consecutive Australian Opens. It happened once before the tour turned professional, with Roy Emerson winning five in a row from 1963 to 1967. Djokovic has left Melbourne with the title every time that he has made it through to the semi-finals.

 

So who takes the title now?

Only Bjorn Borg (89.2 per cent) has a higher winning percentage in grand slam matches than Nadal (87.7 per cent) and Djokovic (87.5 per cent) in the Open Era, among players with 100 or more wins. So why not Nadal?

The 35-year-old and Djokovic have carved up 12 of the last 14 grand slam titles, Nadal winning four of those (three French Opens, one US Open). He is battling back from a foot injury lay-off and coronavirus, and might need to get the early rounds out of the way without undue stress to stand a chance at the business end.

The two exceptions in the Nadal-Djokovic sequence of slam dominance have come at the US Open, with Dominic Thiem winning in New York in 2020 and Daniil Medvedev triumphing at Djokovic's expense in last year's Flushing Meadows final. Thiem is not in Australia, but world number two Medvedev is, looking to become the third Russian man to win two slams, after Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin.

The last man other than Federer, Nadal and Djokovic to secure back-to-back slam singles title was Andre Agassi (US Open 1999 and Australian Open 2000), but that is Medvedev's objective now, and he has the game to pull it off.

Nadal has reached at least the quarter-final stage in 15 of his last 16 grand slam appearances, winning six of those majors (four French Opens and two US Opens), so he may well be a factor.

Who else is in the frame? Alexander Zverev probably, having reached the quarter-finals in Australia in the last two seasons (SF in 2020 and QF in 2021). He won the Olympic Games and ATP Finals titles last year, so a grand slam is an obvious next step. He might want to keep double faults in check though, having served a tour-high 113 in slams last season.

Stefanos Tsitsipas reached the Australian semi-finals in 2019 and 2021, so throw him into the mix too, and Matteo Berrettini might be a threat. The Italian, a runner-up to Djokovic at Wimbledon in July, served more aces than any other player in grand slams last year (311 aces, 16.4 on average per match).

 

Others have more modest ambitions

Andy Murray is back at the Australian Open for the first time since 2019, when he lost in the first round against Roberto Bautista Agut in five sets and was more or less given his last rites as a tennis pro after the match, having indicated he was close to retirement.

The five-time Australian Open runner-up last won a match in this tournament in 2017, when he reached round four. A tough opener against Nikoloz Basilashvili awaits.

Spanish 40-year-old Feliciano Lopez will make his 80th appearance in a grand slam and become the second man in the Open Era with 80 or more appearances at the four majors, after Federer (81).

Do not expect an Australian to be men's champion, by the way. The last time an Australian reached the men's singles final was 2005, when Lleyton Hewitt lost against Safin, and the last home champion was Mark Edmondson in 1976.

Barty backed in stacked women's draw

For the first time since 1997, neither Serena nor Venus Williams will take part in the Australian Open. Yet the women's tour is in rude health, even without those great bastions.

Ash Barty is world number one and a standout pick for many, only enhancing her claims after winning an Adelaide International title in the run-up to this fortnight.

But there is staggering depth on the women's side at present, and Barty will face stiff competition.

Incredibly, the last five grand slam finals have featured 10 different women, and teenager Emma Raducanu's against-all-odds US Open triumph in September shows best of all that new stars are emerging.

Yet since 2000, only three non-seeded players have reached the women's singles final at the Australian Open: Serena Williams in 2007, Justine Henin in 2010 and Garbine Muguruza in 2020. 

Barty could become the first Australian to be women's champion since Chris O'Neil in 1978, and the first to reach the final since Wendy Turnbull lost to Hana Mandlikova in 1980.

The Queenslander is the top seed, and the last time the number one failed to reach at least the fourth round at Melbourne Park was in 1979, when Virginia Ruzici lost her opening match. Barty ended a long wait for an Australian winner of the women's title at Wimbledon last year, so why not closer to home as well?

 

Naomi Osaka is back, so what should we expect?

Truth be told, that's hard to know. Osaka took time out from tennis after the US Open to focus on her mental health and enjoyed hanging out with friends, before deciding she missed tennis enough to go back on tour.

She had three wins at the Melbourne Summer Set tournament recently before withdrawing from a fourth match, saying her body had "got a shock" from the intensity. As defending champion in the season's first major, she has a target on her back and will need to find a way to handle that.

Over the past six seasons, only Osaka has managed to win back-to-back grand slam singles titles among the women, and she has done so twice (US Open 2018 and Australian Open 2019, plus US Open 2020 and Australian Open 2021).

The last player to win back-to-back women's Australian Open singles titles was Victoria Azarenka (2012 and 2013), so it does not happen regularly.

Osaka has an 85 per cent win rate at this tournament: since 2000, only Jennifer Capriati (90 per cent) and Serena Williams (89 per cent) have had a higher win percentage in the main draw.

 

You want challengers to the big two? Try sticking a pin in the draw

The Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup, which goes to the champion, is a trophy that upwards of a dozen women will seriously believe they can win.

Aryna Sabalenka has reached the semi-finals of the last two slams but is mired in some kind of hellish serving groove, having made 74 double faults in her last four matches and lost the last three in a row.

Anett Kontaveit won a tour-high 39 matches on hard courts last year but has only been to one grand slam quarter-final – last year in Australia, losing to Simona Halep.

What about Ons Jabeur, who matched Kontaveit for a tour-high 48 wins across all surfaces last year? The Tunisian is queen of the drop shot, making 147 successful such plays on tour last year, more than any other player, and recently reached the top 10 in the WTA rankings for the first time.

Maria Sakkari reached two slam semi-finals last year, the first of her career, and the form of Barbora Krejcikova and Badosa in the past week in Melbourne marks them out as contenders. Both are recent fast-risers, Krejcikova already with a French Open title to show.

WTA Finals champion Muguruza could be the second Spaniard to twice reach the Melbourne title match, after Arantxa Sanchez Vicario (1994 v Steffi Graf and 1995 v Mary Pierce). Spain has never had an Australian Open women's singles winner: former French Open and Wimbledon champ Muguruza is an authentic contender.

Halep was runner-up to Caroline Wozniacki in 2018, a semi-finalist in 2020 and quarter-finalist last year, and a Melbourne Summer Set title was a handy warm-up for the Romanian. Consider her, too.

Monica Seles, in 1991, was the last player to triumph on her debut in the main draw, but she was already a grand slam winner (1990 French Open). Given the strength of the line-up, the prospect of a bolter coming through this field is unlikely, even if the example of Raducanu tells us anything is possible.

Novak Djokovic put the Australian Open at risk and has made other participants "look like fools" by turning up for the tournament unvaccinated, according to Stefanos Tsitsipas.

World number one Djokovic was paired with Miomir Kecmanovic in Thursday's draw for the opening round, but it remains uncertain whether he will even take part in the first grand slam of the year.

The Serbian was last week given a medical exemption to enter Australia, despite not being vaccinated, only for border officials to block it upon his arrival.

Djokovic was detained for four days while waiting to appeal the case on Monday, which went in his favour at Melbourne Circuit Court.

He has since started training ahead of the Australian Open, which begins next Monday, though immigration minister Alex Hawke may yet cancel his visa for a second time.

The 34-year-old is also being investigated for breaching isolation rules in December after testing positive for COVID-19.

And as a decision regarding whether he can stay in Australia and defend his title is dragged out, Tsitsipas has become the highest-profile tennis figure to criticise Djokovic for his conduct.

"He has been playing by his own rules," world number four Tsitsipas told Indian outlet WION.

"No one would have thought: 'I can come to Australia unvaccinated and not have to follow the protocols they gave me'.

"For Novak it worked another way. It takes a lot of daring to do. Putting a Grand Slam at risk – I don't think many players would do that."

Tsitsipas, who was defeated by Djokovic in last year's French Open final, added: "There are two ways to look at it.

"One way is that almost every single player has been vaccinated and did what they had to do in order to come and play in Australia.

"We have all followed the protocols to come and compete in Australia and been very disciplined in that.

"It seems like not everyone is playing by the rules of how Tennis Australia and some governments have been putting things.

"A very small minority chose to follow their own way. It makes the majority look like they are all fools."

Djokovic has spent the past four days training on court in preparation for the Australian Open, which he has won a record nine times, including in each of the last three years.

But weighing in on the debate on Thursday, Australian deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce said the 20-time grand slam winner must "abide by the rules" if he is to remain in the country.

"You have to be frank – the vast majority of Australians said they didn't like the idea that another individual, whether they're a tennis player or the king of Spain or the queen of England, can come up here and have a different set of rules to what everybody else has to deal with," Joyce said.

"Let's see where it goes from here… I've made my views clear. I might not agree with the fact that I have to be tested to go from New South Wales into Queensland but I do [it’. Why? Because that is the law.

"He is no better. He is still a child of God like the rest of us, isn't he? So he has got to abide by the laws."

Novak Djokovic has been drawn against Miomir Kecmanovic in the opening round of the Australian Open as the defending champion awaits to hear if he can stay in the country.

World number one Djokovic was last week given a medical exemption to enter Australia, despite not being vaccinated, only for border officials to block it upon his arrival.

The 20-time grand slam winner was detained for four days while waiting to appeal the case on Monday, which went in his favour at Melbourne Circuit Court.

Djokovic has since started training ahead of the Australian Open, which begins next Monday, though immigration minister Alex Hawke may yet cancel his visa for a second time. 

A decision on whether Djokovic can compete in the first grand slam of the year, which he has won a record nine times, could be made on Thursday.

Should he be given the all clear to take part, Djokovic will face compatriot Kecmanovic in the first round at Melbourne Park.

Thursday's draw, which was delayed by one hour and 15 minutes for unspecified reasons, also saw fellow 20-time grand slam winner Rafael Nadal paired with Marcos Giron.

Nadal is in the same half of the draw as Djokovic, meaning the pair could meet in the semi-finals, while third seed Alexander Zverev is also in the top half.

Second seed and 2021 finalist Daniil Medvedev is in the bottom half along with Stefanos Tsitsipas and will take on Henri Laaksonen first up.

In the women's draw, Australia's world number one Ash Barty will begin her quest for glory on home soil against a qualifier.

The top seed is on a collision course with defending champion Naomi Osaka, who goes face-to-face with Camila Osorio in round one on her return from a four-month break.

Reigning US Open winner Emma Raducanu is up against Sloane Stephens, who won the New York major in 2017, while Storm Sanders awaits second seed Aryna Sabalenka.

World number four Stefanos Tsitsipas is optimistic he will be fit for this month's Australian Open after coming through his first complete singles match since undergoing surgery on his right elbow last November.

Following a gruelling three-set defeat to Diego Schwartzman at the ATP Cup in Sydney on Monday, Tsitsipas was upbeat about his prospects of performing in Melbourne.

"It gets better and better every single day", Tsitsipas said of his injury. "We have plenty of time before the Australian Open begins, and I think if I take the right precautions and follow what my doctor says, then I can see myself performing at 100 per cent.

The Greek went on to reveal that medics had harboured serious doubts over his participation at the first Grand Slam of 2022, after he had been forced to withdraw from November's ATP Finals in Turin.

"Going into that surgery, even the doctor was unsure if it was a good idea to perform and play at the Australian Open.

"My recovery was much better than he expected, in comparison with other players that he has treated in the past, so he was surprised. He came to Dubai, and he was surprised to see me hitting close to 100 per cent.

The 2021 French Open finalist also claimed to have enjoyed his contest with Schwartzman, despite the defeat.

"It was good to see myself perform at such a level. I didn't expect it," he said. "It worked out better than I thought. I was able to hit balls that I was scared to hit two weeks ago, so I’m heading towards the right direction."

Tsitsipas, who has won seven ATP Tour events to date, is due to be in action once more in Sydney this week against Georgian, Nikoloz Basilashvili.

Diego Schwartzman sealed a 2-0 win for Argentina over Greece in Group D of the ATP Cup after edging a close contest with world number four Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Schwartzman claimed just the third victory of his career over a top-five opponent, winning 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-3 in Sydney.

The world number 13 fought back from a break down in the second set before taking his career head-to-head with Tsitsipas to 2-1 after battling through two hours and 42 minutes on Ken Rosewall Arena.

"I was just trying to think that it was his first match for two months after his elbow [injury], so I was thinking just to try and be in the match," Schwartzman said in his on-court interview.

"I had the chance and I think I was ready. I am very happy because playing against Stefanos and being a set and a break down is not easy, but I found a way."

Argentina, who earlier saw Federico Delbonis defeat Michail Pervolarakis in straight sets, will now face Poland on Wednesday to decide who progresses to the semi-finals.

Poland were comfortable 3-0 winners in their match-up with Georgia, Kamil Majchrzak beating Aleksandre Bakshi for the loss of just two games before Hubert Hurkacz defeated Aleksandre Metreveli 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-1.

Pablo Carreno Busta beat Viktor Durasovic 6-3 6-3 to put Spain ahead against Norway, and their win was assured when Roberto Bautista Agut claimed an impressive 6-4 7-6 (7-4) victory over Casper Ruud. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Pedro Martinez followed up with a straight-sets doubles win.

"Casper is playing unbelievable tennis, [he did] an unbelievable performance last year, and today I played very good," Bautista Agut said. "I returned very well, I made very few unforced errors and I played aggressively. I try to play matches like this and that is why I am practising hard and I am trying to show this level."

Spain are top of Group A ahead of Serbia, whose match with Chile will go down to a doubles decider.

Stefanos Tsitsipas withdrew from his ATP Cup match against Hubert Hurkacz on Saturday but eased injury fears after playing in the doubles.

The Greek star, ranked fourth in the world, is recovering from elbow surgery but suffered a flare-up of the problem in Sydney and pulled out of the Group D singles tie as a precaution.

With the Australian Open coming up later this month, the two-time Melbourne Park semi-finalist appeared comfortable as he paired up with Michail Pervolarakis for a 6-4 5-7 10-8 win.

"The recovery from my elbow surgery in November is on track for Melbourne and today was a precautionary step to make sure I make Melbourne," he said.

"We will see day by day, match by match until then."

Aristotelis Thanos stepped in for Greece and lost 6-1 6-2 as Hurkacz helped Poland into a 2-0 lead after Kamil Majchrzak had beaten Pervolarakis 6-1 6-4, making the doubles clash a dead rubber.

Spain, runners-up in 2020, showed no mercy on Chile despite the absence of Rafael Nadal as they stormed to a 3-0 win in Group A.

Roberto Bautista Agut downed Cristian Garin 6-0 6-3, while Pablo Carreno Busta defeated Alejandro Tabilo 6-4 7-6 (7-4). Doubles pairing Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Pedro Martinez battled to a 7-6 (7-3) 4-6 10-7 victory over Tabilo and Tomas Barrios.

Argentina also enjoyed a 3-0 triumph in Group D, with Georgia coming up blank against a team led by Diego Schwartzman.

Serbia, without Novak Djokovic, earned a decisive doubles success to seal a 2-1 win over Norway, with Nikola Cacic and Filip Krajinovic downing Casper Ruud and Viktor Durasovic.

Stefanos Tsitsipas has been forced to withdraw from the ATP Finals in Turin because of an injury to his right elbow, with Cameron Norrie taking his place.

Tsitsipas was beaten in straight sets by Andrey Rublev - who faces Novak Djokovic next - in his opening Green Group match on Monday and was scheduled to take on Casper Ruud on Wednesday.

However, the 23-year-old's elbow issue means that ATP Finals debutant and Indian Wells winner Norrie will play Ruud instead, in his first match of the group stage.

Ruud's first outing ended in a straight-sets defeat at the hands of Djokovic, although the Norwegian may be more confident of his chances in this match, having beaten Norrie 6-0 6-2 in their only other encounter last month at the San Diego Open final.

Tsitsipas - who won the ATP Finals in 2019 - was forced to retire from his Paris Masters clash against Alexei Popyrin last month, also due to an ongoing elbow problem, and the Greek is no longer able to play through the pain.

Norrie is the second alternate to join the competition after an injury to one of the original eight. Jannik Sinner replaced fellow Italian Matteo Berrettini and went on to defeat Hubert Hurkacz in the Red Group on Tuesday.

 

Andrey Rublev returned to form by downing Stefanos Tsitsipas in their first match of the ATP Finals in Turin on Monday. 

Rublev had only won two of his past seven contests before arriving at the season-ending tournament at the Pala Alpitour but saw off fourth seed Tsitsipas 6-4 6-4. 

The fifth seed from Russia gained sweet revenge, having lost to his Greek opponent in this event in London last year. 

Rublev did not face a break point as he levelled his head-to-head record with Tsitsipas at 4-4 with a statement win. 

The Moscow native won 90 per cent of points behind his first serve and broke Tsitsipas once in each set, sealing victory in an hour and a half. 

Rublev joined world number one Novak Djokovic at the top of the Green Group on a night to forget for Tsitsipas. 

 

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS 

Rublev – 31/7
Tsitsipas – 31/17

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS 

Rublev – 9/3
Tsitsipas– 12/2

BREAK POINTS WON 

Rublev – 2/7
Tsitsipas – 0/0

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