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Friday, January 28, 2022

Australian Open: What happens to the draw if Novak Djokovic is withdrawn?

A decision is yet to come through from Australia’s Minister of Immigration as to whether or not Novak Djokovic, nine-time Australian Open champion, will be allowed to defend his title.

Written by Shahid Judge , Edited by Explained Desk | Mumbai |
Updated: January 14, 2022 2:31:16 pm
Novak Djokovic practices on Margaret Court Arena ahead of the Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. AP Photo/Mark Baker)

There was a delay, but the Australian Open Draw ceremony on Thursday eventually did take place. The two draws of 128 were slotted in the men’s and women’s singles categories, and yes, Novak Djokovic’s name was among them. He will play fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round.

A decision is yet to come through from Australia’s Minister of Immigration Alex Hawke as to whether or not the top-seeded Serb and nine-time champion will be allowed to defend his title. But organisers already have in place the guidelines to change the draw should Djokovic be forced to withdraw.

What would’ve happened if Djokovic had withdrawn before the draw?

Though this option is no longer possible since the draw is already made, should first seed Djokovic have withdrawn earlier, then the seeds would simply move up the ladder. Daniil Medvedev, the second seed, would become the top seed, third seed Alexander Zverev would go up to two, fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas would become the third seed, and so on. The new 32nd seed would then become the highest ranked unseeded player competing at the Australian Open. Generally this would be the World No 33, but since World Nos 15 and 16, Dominic Thiem and Roger Federer respectively, are not playing, and if Djokovic was out of the picture, the last seeded player would be No 35 Alexander Bublik.

What happens if Djokovic withdraws now, after the draw has been made?

According to the Grand Slam rulebook: “If the withdrawal is among seeds 1 to 4, the 5th seed is moved into the open position, the 5th position shall be filled by the 17th seed, and the 17th position shall be filled by the next highest ranked player eligible to be seeded.”

Based on this, if top seeded Djokovic is withdrawn, then fifth seed Andrey Rublev takes his place. Gael Monfils, the 17th seed takes Rublev’s place, and Bublik becomes the new 17th seed.

Does it remain this way if Djokovic is withdrawn after the order of play is released?

Generally, the order of play is released a day or two in advance. If the schedule is made and Djokovic is then withdrawn, he will be replaced by a Lucky Loser. A Lucky Loser is a player who lost in the third and final round of the qualification stage.

What happens if Djokovic wins his first match and is then forced to withdraw?

If Djokovic wins his first match, he will play the winner of a match between a qualifier and American player Tommy Paul. If the Serb is forced to withdraw after winning his opening round, then the winner of the qualifier of the Paul match receives a bye in the second round and goes straight to the third.

Is Djokovic likely to be withdrawn?

It’s still unclear. The decision is entirely up to Immigration Minister Hawke to make.

At a press conference on Thursday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison was asked about Djokovic, but he declined to answer, stating: “These are personal ministerial powers able to be exercised by Minister Hawke. I don’t propose to make any further comment at this time.”

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