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7 Jan, 2023 08:45

World number one withdraws from Australian Open

Carlos Alcaraz will not be competing in Melbourne later this month
World number one withdraws from Australian Open

The Australian Open will be without the men’s world number one this year after Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz announced he will be forced to miss the tournament due to injury.

Alcaraz, 19, confirmed the news to fans in a social media statement on Saturday, just over a week before the main draw of the tournament gets underway at Melbourne Park on January 16.

“When I was at my best in preseason, I picked up an injury through a chance, unnatural movement in training,” Alcaraz wrote on Twitter. “This time it’s the semimembranosus muscle in my right leg.

“I’d worked so hard to get to my best level for Australia but unfortunately I won’t be able to play. It’s tough, but I have to be optimistic, recover and look forward. We’ll see you at the Australian Open in 2024.”

Alcaraz will also miss the Kooyong Tennis Classic event in Melbourne which he had been planning to feature in as a warm-up to the Australian Open. His absence from the opening Grand Slam of the year means that compatriot Rafael Nadal is set to become the top-seeded man at the tournament.

Alcaraz ascended to the world number one spot after winning a maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open in September. He became the youngest ever player to achieve the feat since the ATP rankings were introduced in 1973.

However, Alcaraz suffered an injury-hit end to 2022 after retiring from the quarterfinals of the Paris Masters with an abdominal tear in November and then missing the season-ending ATP Finals in Turin.

Australian Open organizers responded to the news of his withdrawal by replying on social media: “We’re sorry we won’t be seeing you this year @carlosalcaraz Wishing you a swift recovery. See you back on court soon.”

Nadal, 36, will enter the men’s draw in Melbourne as the defending champion, having beaten Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in a five-set epic in last year’s final. Record nine-time tournament winner Novak Djokovic will be back to contest the title after his infamous deportation 12 months ago in a row over his vaccine status.

Djokovic, 35, had his three-year visa ban overturned by the Australian government and is already back in the country and competing at the Adelaide International, where he faces Medvedev in the semifinals on Saturday. Two-time Australian Open finalist Medvedev, 26, is set to be the highest-seeded Russian man in the draw and will enter the event as world number seven.