Djokovic joins United Cup, Nadal in Brisbane: ATP Resumption

Photo of Djokovic joining united cup.

Novak Djokovic has begun his quest for a historic season at the United Cup in Australia, targeting the calendar Grand Slam and the Paris Olympics. Simultaneously, Rafael Nadal is ready for a return in Brisbane following almost a year of reduced activity due to injury.

This season carries potential importance as it could signify the Spaniard’s last year in professional tennis. Both Djokovic, in pursuit of his 24th Major title, and Nadal, making a comeback after a year-long break, are starting their 2024 seasons in Australia.

In 2023, Djokovic is on the brink of making tennis history with his 24th Major title, driven by an unyielding desire for more championships. His aspirations include completing a calendar Grand Slam and vying for Olympic gold in Paris this summer, building on his previous bronze medal in the singles event in Beijing in 2008.

Following an exhibition match against his rival Carlos Alcaraz of Spain scheduled for Wednesday, the world No.1 will join the United Cup—a mixed competition held in Perth and Sydney starting Friday. This tournament is considered vital preparation for his title defense at the Australian Open, which kicks off on January 15.

In Perth, the 36-year-old Serbian will compete against China and the Czech Republic in Group E. His initial opponent on Sunday will be China’s Zhang Zhizen, who is ranked 58th in the world and nine years younger.

This will be followed by a match against the Czech Jiri Lehecka, who is ranked 31st in the world, on Tuesday. Djokovic will team up with Olga Danilovic for the mixed doubles event, where they are scheduled to face the Czech Marketa Vondrousova (7th), the reigning Wimbledon champion, and China’s Zheng Qinwen (15th).

Should he progress beyond the group phase, Djokovic’s quarter-final on January 3 will see him facing the winner of Group C, comprising the United States, defending champions led by Taylor Fritz (10th) and Jessica Pegula (5th), as well as teams from Great Britain and Australia.


Rafael Nadal, the former world No.1 who has fallen to No.664 in the rankings after a largely inactive 2023 season due to a hip injury, makes his comeback at the ATP 250 tournament in Brisbane on December 31. At 37, he anticipates that 2024 could mark his “final year” on the circuit, though he acknowledges that he cannot “guarantee it 100%.”

“I’ve put in substantial effort to return to competition, and if circumstances and my physical condition permit me to continue enjoying what I do, I don’t see the reason to set a definite limit,” he conveyed in a video shared on social media at the beginning of December.

The latest official match for the Spanish athlete, boasting 22 Grand Slam triumphs, ended with his defeat in the second round of the Australian Open in January 2023. Following hip surgery, his primary aim was articulated as wanting to showcase competitiveness in Brisbane.


After regaining the world No.1 ranking with her triumph in the Masters in Cancun last November, Iga Swiatek is starting her season at the United Cup. Representing Poland, she will face Brazil and Spain in Group A, without Alcaraz.

In Perth, the 22-year-old Swiatek is set to compete against Beatriz Haddad Maia, ranked 11th in the world, in Saturday’s singles match, followed by Sara Sorribes Tormo (48th) on Monday. She will team up with Hubert Hurkacz, ranked 9th on the ATP rankings, in the mixed doubles event. Subsequently, her goal is to clinch her fourth Grand Slam title in Melbourne, having reached the semi-finals in 2023.


For the United Cup, Greece’s representatives, Stefanos Tsitsipas (6th ATP) and Maria Sakkari (9th WTA), are scheduled to compete against Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime (29th) and Leylah Fernandez (35th), as well as Chile.

Meanwhile, in Australia, the team is placing their hopes on Alex de Minaur (12th) and Ajla Tomljanovic (290th) as they face off against the United States (Fritz/Pegula) and Great Britain (Cameron Norrie, 18th, and Katie Boulter).

In Hong Kong, Andrey Rublev from Russia, ranked 5th globally, will be participating alongside compatriot Karen Khachanov (15th) and American Frances Tiafoe (16th).


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