The most action-packed lead-up to the Australian Open in history is underway, with five tournaments including the ATP Cup being played at Melbourne Park. Follow live below!
The top four male players were all set to be in action today, including Novak Djokovic in the day session and Rafael Nadal at night, however the Spaniard has withdrawn from tonight’s clash with Australia.
Other stars on court on Tuesday include Aussies world No.1 Ash Barty and Nick Kyrgios.
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RAFA OUT OF ATP CUP SHOWDOWN WITH AUSSIES
Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from tonight’s ATP Cup showdown with Alex de Minaur and Australia.
The world No.2 tweeted on Tuesday afternoon he had pulled out of the match with a “stiff low back”, adding “hopefully I’ll be better for Thursday” when Spain faces Greece.
Nadal was set to face de Minaur for the third straight summer, after beating him in the 2019 Australian Open and 2020 ATP Cup.
Spanish No.2 Roberto Bautista Agut will now face de Minaur, while Australian No.2 John Millman is currently facing Pablo Carreno Busta, down 6-2 in the opening rubber.
While the Nadal news is disappointing for tennis fans, it does give Australia’s hopes of progressing through to the ATP Cup semi-finals a serious boost.
De Minaur is 2-0 all-time against Bautista Agut, while Millman is 1-3 against Carreno Busta.
The potentially decisive doubles tie will pit Carreno Busta and Granollers against Australia’s John Peers and Luke Saville – though changes could be made to those line-ups.
The winner of the Australia v Spain tie will be favoured to advance into the ATP Cup semi-finals, assuming they also beat Greece later this week.
In the other night session tie, Daniil Medvedev’s Russia faces Diego Schwartzman’s Argentina.
Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from tonight’s ATP Cup tie against Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
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DJOKER SURVIVES SERIOUS ATP CUP SCARE
Defending ATP Cup champions Serbia had to call world No.1 Novak Djokovic into action to keep their 2021 campaign alive – and it paid off.
After Serbian No.2 Dusan Lajovic lost in straight sets to Milos Raonic, Djokovic had to win to keep his country’s hopes alive, and got the job done against Denis Shapovalov.
With the tie in the balance, Djokovic was forced to partner Filip Krajinovic against Raonic and Shapovalov in the doubles. Serbia prevailed 7-5 7-6 and will face Germany on Thursday, with a spot in the semi-finals at stake.
The other day match-up was also sent into a decisive doubles match after two surprising results.
Dennis Novak handed Austria a 1-0 lead in the tie after beating Italy’s Fabio Fognini, but 2020 Australian Open finalist Dominic Thiem then lost in straight sets to Matteo Berrettini.
With the singles players back out there for the doubles, Italy completed the comeback, winning 6-1 6-4.
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TOP AUSSIES IN ACTION AS BARTY, KYRGIOS RETURN TO THE COURT
World No.1 Ash Barty and Nick Kyrgios will both return to competitive play on Tuesday evening in their respective Melbourne Park lead-up events.
Barty will face Romania’s Ana Bogdan in the Yarra Valley Classic from 6:30pm AEDT.
Kyrgios’ first match since last February has begun against Frenchman Alexandre Muller, and it was a poor start for the Aussie, dropping the opening set 3-6.
That was before Kyrgios won the second set 6-4 to send the match to a deciding third set.
Earlier defending Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin’s long-awaited return to Melbourne Park was brief after her opponent Camila Giorgi retired injured after one set at the Yarra Valley Classic.
The 22-year-old was back at the scene of her stunning breakthrough Grand Slam title last year, where she beat Garbine Muguruza in three sets.
But it was a short stay on Margaret Court Arena with the 76th-ranked Giorgi retiring because of a thigh injury after Kenin clinched a tight first set 7-5.
Williams’ preparation on track
“I hope she’s all right … but I’m glad to get through,” Kenin said. “I was missing so many forehands but I finally made them to close out the first set.”
The American was upset in the quarter-finals in the season-opening event in Abu Dhabi last month by Greece’s Maria Sakkari, ranked 22.
Kenin reeled off three straight games to start the match before going off the boil as Giorgi went 4-3 ahead.
Kenin regrouped before Giorgi called for medical attention at the end of the set and retired.
The Moscow-born Kenin emerged as a serious force in last year’s truncated circuit, also reaching the French Open final and rising to a career-high fourth in the world rankings.
– with AFP
NOTABLE MATCHES AND ORDER OF PLAY – TUESDAY FEBRUARY 2
Serbia defeats Canada 2-1
No.2 singles: Milos Raonic (CAN) def Dusan Lajovic (SRB) 6-3 6-4
No.1 singles: Novak Djokovic (SRB) def Denis Shapovalov (CAN) 7-5 7-5
Doubles: Novak Djokovic and Filip Krajinovic (SRB) def Milos Raonic and Denis Shapovalov (CAN) 7-5 7-6
Italy defeats Austria 2-1
No.2 singles: Dennis Novak (AUT) def Fabio Fognini (ITA) 6-3 6-2
No.1 singles: Matteo Berrettini (ITA) def Dominic Thiem (AUT) 6-2 6-4
Doubles: Matteo Berrettini and Fabio Fognini (ITA) def Dennis Novak and Dominic Thiem (AUT) 6-1 6-4
Night session (from 5:30pm AEDT)
Spain v Australia – Rod Laver Arena
No.2 singles: Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) v John Millman (AUS) 6-2
No.1 singles: Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) v Alex de Minaur (AUS)
Doubles: Pablo Carreno Busta and Marcel Granollers (ESP) v John Peers and Luke Saville (AUS)
Russia v Argentina – John Cain Arena
No.2 singles: Andrey Rublev (RUS) v Guido Pella (ARG) 6-1
No.1 singles: Daniil Medvedev (RUS) v Diego Schwartzman (ARG)
Doubles: Evgeny Donskoy and Aslan Karatsev (RUS) v Maximo Gonzalez and Horacio Zeballos (ARG)
YARRA VALLEY CLASSIC
Show Court 1
Naomi Osaka (JPN)  def Alize Cornet (FRA) 6-2 6-2
Not before 6:30pm
Ash Barty (AUS)  v Ana Bogdan (ROU)
Venus Williams (USA) v Petra Kvitova (CZE) 
MURRAY RIVER OPEN
Alexandre Muller (FRA) v Nick Kyrgios (AUS)  6-3 4-6
GREAT OCEAN ROAD OPEN
Jordan Thompson (AUS)  def Gianluca Mager (ITA) 4-6 6-4 6-3
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