Novak Djokovic is welcome at Australian Open, says tournament director; Russian and Belarusian players can compete next year
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – May 29: Novak Djokovic of Serbia plays a forehand against Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia during a men’s singles final match in the 2014 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on May 29, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
NEW YORK (AP) — Novak Djokovic is welcome at the Australian Open, says tournament director Craig Tiley, and the decision is made easier by a deal between the tournament and Russian and Belarusian tennis players.
The agreement with Russian player Daniil Medvedev, who won both the Shanghai and London tournaments, was made prior to a last-ditch effort by the International Tennis Federation, which had threatened to withdraw the tournament from the Australian Open if Medvedev appeared after serving a one-year suspension for an anti-doping violation.
But the sanction was not imposed by the independent world anti-doping agency, the I.T.F., which took over the decision on the condition that the tournament would be allowed to field Medvedev anyway. The I.T.F. said Medvedev remains eligible, because the ATP, WTA and the I.T.F. did not have the same deal.
The I.T.F. is willing to allow a player who has won a major to be eligible for a fifth successive Grand Slam tournament, Tiley said, because it believes that winning a major is no longer a requirement for eligibility.
“We’ve been fighting for the best interests of the sport in Australia,” Tiley said. “We want the tennis tournament to be a real tournament, the way it’s supposed to be. We want the fans to enjoy the sport. We’d also like to make money in the process to keep it here.”