A host of stars have been cleared to compete – in contrast to the ban imposed at Wimbledon
Russian players have been included on the entry list for the 2023 Australian Open, confirming their right to participate at the tournament in Melbourne in January.
Daniil Medvedev, twice a beaten finalist at the event, leads the way among Russian male players on the list unveiled by organizers on Thursday.
Currently ranked world number seven, Medvedev finds himself one spot above compatriot Andrey Rublev.
Lower down the list, Russia’s Karen Khachanov – a semifinalist at the US Open in September – enters the draw as world number 20.
In the women’s entry list, Russian pair Daria Kasatkina and Veronika Kudermetova both head to Australia inside the world’s top 10.
Returning to action will be former Russian women’s number one Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who was forced to miss much of the 2022 season after undergoing surgery on a knee injury.
Pavlyuchenkova, 31, is a three-time quarterfinalist in Melbourne.
In line with policies imposed by the WTA, ATP, and ITF (International Tennis Federation) because of the conflict in Ukraine, players from Russia and Belarus will have to compete at the Australian Open under neutral status, and without any national symbols.
But Australian Open officials have opted not to follow their counterparts at Wimbledon, who banned all Russian and Belarusian players from the 2022 edition of the tournament.
That made the grass court showpiece an outlier among the four Grand Slams, with the French Open, US Open, and now the Australian Open all allowing Russian and Belarusian players to compete.
Wimbledon was stripped of its rankings points by the WTA and ATP in response to its stance, with the organizations fining the UK tennis authorities to the tune of a combined $2 million.
It was reported this week that officials at the All England Lawn Tennis Club are reconsidering their ban ahead of the 2023 edition of the tournament, having been surprised by the strength of the backlash against their position.
Speaking in October, Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley said Russian and Belarusian players would be “welcome” in Melbourne next year.
“They cannot participate in any activity such as the anthem of Russia and they have to play as independent players under a neutral name. But they will be welcome to the Australian Open in January,” said the official.
Also included on the 2023 Australian Open entry list is record nine-time men’s champion Novak Djokovic.
The Serb, 35, was prevented from defending his title in Melbourne at the start of the year when he was deported in a row over his Covid vaccine status.
There were fears that a three-year re-entry ban could prevent Djokovic from featuring again, although Australian government officials have removed any restrictions, clearing him to bid for a 22nd Grand Slam title.
In Djokovic’s absence, the 2022 Australian Open men’s title was won by Rafael Nadal, who defeated Medvedev in a five-set epic in the final.
The defeat was a second successive loss for Medvedev in the title match in Melbourne, after he was beaten by Djokovic in 2021.
Speaking at a tournament in Saudi Arabia this week, Medvedev – who spent a combined 16 weeks as world number this year – said he was excited to be mounting another challenge in Melbourne.
“I love Australia and I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes [next] year,” said the 26-year-old.
The 2022 women’s crown in Melbourne was won by home hero Ashleigh Barty, who has since retired.
Current world number one Iga Swiatek of Poland will be the strong favorite heading into next year’s women’s tournament.
The 2023 Australian Open will be held at Melbourne Park from January 16 to 29.
December 09, 2022 at 03:00PM