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Australian Open 2022: From Serena and Venus to Thiem, who is missing, and why

A list of the leading players who for one reason or another, will not be playing at the Australian Open in 2022

Williams of the United States in action during the second round of the 2021 Internazionali BNL d'Italia WTA 1000 tournament against Nadia Podoroska © Panoramic

The Australian Open begins in Melbourne on January 17 and the vast majority of leading players intend to be there, all being well between now and the start of play. But some have already pulled out. Here’s who won’t be there and why.

Serena Williams: Still recovering from hamstring injury

Serena Williams had hinted and teased that she might be ready to return to the Tour for the first time since Wimbledon, in time for another crack at the Australian Open, an event she has won seven times.

But the hamstring she suffered in her first-round match at Wimbledon has not yet fully recovered and so the 23-times Grand Slam champion will stay home to train. The 40-year-old is still one slam short of the all-time record of 24 Grand Slams, held by Australia’s Margaret Court.

Dominic Thiem: 2020 US Open champion delays comeback

Austria’s Dominic Thiem is the latest big name on the men’s side to miss the Australian Open. The former US Open champion has struggled with a wrist injury in recent months and has not competed on the tour since June.

Due to his inactivity, Thiem had dropped from No 3 to No 15 in the rankings. In a statement posted on his social media, Thiem said the latest health setback (a cold which forced him to withdraw from the Mubadala World Tennis Championships in Abu Dhabi) has made his team reassess their options. He now expects to at the Cordoba Open, which is held the week immediately after the Australian Open.

Venus Williams: 2003 and 2017 Runner-up to miss Australian Open for first time since 2012

Former world No 1 and seven-time Grand Slam winner, Venus Williams will not play the season’s opening Major for the first time in a decade. The 41-year-old pulled out of the Australian Open, joining sister Serena Williams on the absentee list.

This marks the first time since 1997 that neither of the Williams sisters will be playing the Happy Slam. Venus, a two-time finalist in Melbourne, has only missed three Australian Opens in her career since her 1998 debut. She is currently ranked No 318 in the world after a disappointing run in 2021 and would have needed a wild card to enter the tournament.

Karolina Muchova: 2021 semi-finalist wants to start season ‘pain-free’

With Muchova‘s announcement on December 21, that made defending champion Naomi Osaka the only women’s semi-finalist from 2021 still in the 2022 draw. The Czech had not played a match on tour since the US Open, and had ended her season in October with the intent to start 2022 “pain-free”. Although she has been circumspect on what her exact issues are, she wrote on social media: “I’m doing all I can to get back on the court as soon as I’m able.”

Jennifer Brady: 2021 finalist out with injury

The tournament confirmed on December 19 that 2021 runner-up Jennifer Brady would be missing the 2022 edition due to a continuing left foot injury. She has been suffering from this and plantar fasciitis for most of the year, stemming back to the Italian Open; it was the problem that forced her to retire from her Roland-Garros third-round match against Coco Gauff, and admitted later that she had considered not playing the tournament at all.

Karolina Pliskova: pulled out because of hand injury

World No 4 Karolina Pliskova will miss the Australian Open as she recovers from a hand injury suffered in training as she prepared for the new season. The Wimbledon runner-up had been expected to be one of the leading contenders for the title in Melbourne and the news means she ends a run of 35 consecutive Grand Slam appearances.

“Unfortunately, I hurt my right hand in practice yesterday and I won’t be able to play in Adelaide, Sydney and (the) Australian Open this year,” Pliskova said on Thursday.

Bianca Andreescu: Recovering from a mentally exhausting year

Former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu had an up and down 2021 as she returned to the Tour having missed all of 2020.

The Canadian said the effort of staying in quarantine hotels as the Tour adjusted to life with Covid-19 had taken their toll on her mental health, citing the fact that her grandmother had been in the ICU after contracting the virus. The 21-year-old, whose ranking has slipped to No 46, said she needs to “reset, recover and grow from this”.

Pierre-Hugues Herbert: Not vaccinated against Covid-19, unable to play

Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert enjoyed a superb 2021, winning Roland-Garros and the ATP Finals with partner Nicolas Mahut.

But as early as the US Open, it became clear that Herbert was not vaccinated against Covid-19 and with the Australian Open insisting that only fully vaccinated players will be allowed to play in Melbourne, he knew that he would have to miss the first Grand Slam of 2022, as he would not change his mind.

“Personally, I am not vaccinated and the trip to Australia was not an option for me,” he told L’Equipe. “It is certain that from the moment when I could not go there without being vaccinated, it necessarily complicated things. And there is not only Australia. Today, there is the United States, Austria…It is a rather complex topic. On the other hand, it is a personal choice not to get the vaccine.”

Nicolas Mahut & Pierre-Hugues Herbert at Roland-Garros in 2021

Mahut told L‘Equipe that he respected his partner’s decision.

“He does not want to be vaccinated, at least not now, and he measures the consequences of his decision,” Mahut said. “He is well aware that this could seriously complicate his season. The question arises in particular for the trip to Indian Wells and Miami.

“I disagree with people who judge and who say that it is good or bad,” he explained.“I respect his decision. I didn’t make that choice, I got vaccinated very early on, but I totally understand. It’s a very personal choice. I do not know to what extent he will hold his convictions. To what extent it risks undermining him and preventing him from carrying out his job.”

Tennys Sandgren: Not vaccinated

The American Tennys Sandgren confirmed he would not be in Australia due to his refusal to receive the mandatory vaccination against Covid-19 and his lack of medical exemption for that choice.

Nadia Podoroska: Former French Open semi-finalist still injured

Argentine Nadia Podoroska has joined the list of absentee players at the 2022 Australian Open. Podoroska, who had a surprising run to the Roland-Garros semi-finals in 2020 as a qualifier, has not played since the US Open in August, due to injury. In her first and only main draw appearance at Melbourne Park, the 84th ranked Argentine reached the second round in 2021.

Renata Voracova: Czech’s visa revoked in Australia

The world No 81 in doubles, Renata Voracova, was already in Australia when border officials checked the status of her visa and, like Novak Djokovic, they revoked it. Voracova was unvaccinated and thought she was allowed in because she’d had Covid-19 in the past six months. Unlike Djokovic, though, the Czech is flying home.

Olivia Gadecki: Unvaccinated teen sensation

Australia’s Olivia Gadecki, a 19-year-old who just made her Billie Jean King Cup debut for her nation, is likely to miss out on her home Grand Slam due to her decision to remain unvaccinated. Media reports in Australia suggest that Tennis Australia have been trying to convince her to change her mind and thus participate.

Milos Raonic: Not recovered from heel injury

Former world No 3 Milos Raonic won’t start the 2022 season Down Under. The Canadian has not recovered from the heel injury he sustained last year. The injury has kept him off the courts since July 2021. The Australian Open has been Roanic’s most successful Slam with a 34-11 record. He reached the semi-finals in 2016 and has been to the quarter-finals on four other occasions.

Kei Nishikori: Injury woes continue to dog former world No 4

Former US Open finalist Kei Nishikori will also be on the absentee list at the Australian Open. The Japanese player announced on his social media account that he has not completely recovered from his hip injury and felt very disappointed to pull our from what he said “feels like my home Grand Slam”.

Jenson Brooksby: tested positive for COVID-19

The American squad at the Australian Open will be without 21-year-old Jenson Brooksby, who revealed on Monday that he tested positive for COVID-19 before he was scheduled to fly to Melbourne and will be withdrawing from the first Major of 2022.

Brooksby climbed form outside the top 300 to finish the season as world No 56 at the end of 2021. The American, who reached the fourth round of the US Open in September, has never played the Australian Open before and will have to wait for 2023 to make his debut at Melbourne Park.

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