Novak Djokovic is welcome at Australian Open, says tournament director; Russian and Belarusian players can compete at next three majors
NEW YORK, July 4 – When Pete Sampras arrived at Wimbledon in 1994 and posed for photographs with Boris Becker and John McEnroe, the players said their goodbyes inside the locker room, and the press left them alone in the locker room.
Since then, the only picture of the men’s singles champion that many journalists ever publish is one of him at his New York City hotel, on the 17th floor of the Trump International Hotel, as he lounges in bed with a glass of champagne in his hand. Sampras is not the only pro who has earned his celebrity sitting at home doing nothing at all.
But just a few days earlier, at the start of the 2016 WTA Australian Open, the 29-year-old American told the media that he had no plans to leave the grounds for the time being.
The media were not left alone to speculate. As soon as the ATP tournament director, Mark Dwynne, came out and announced that Rafael Nadal could compete in his second tournament of the season, it became clear that, at the most important moment in his career – even though he is still one game away from winning a Grand Slam – the man they described as “The King” could not decide his next game.
In what must have been the closest Sampras got to actually playing a ball in his career, he was forced to say that, for now, he was happy to let things play out.
But it was not a game that he wanted to play for his own sake, Dwynne said.
“It’s not for the sake of our tournament … it is something that will give us the opportunity to see how everything goes and make some decisions.”
Nadal was expected to compete in his second tournament of the season, coming back from a thigh injury that had caused him to withdraw from Roland Garros last year.
But on Tuesday, he became the first men’s singles champion to announce that he would not be playing in the Australian Open. The reason for his decision is, once again, that Nadal could not