Novak Djokovic Australian Open

Novak Djokovic remains world No 1 in the latest ATP Tour rankings, but his days at the top of the pile are numbered! Photo: Reuters

Little-known Italian ‘lucky loser’ fills Novak Djokovic’s spot at Australian Open

Italian Salvatore Caruso has been given an unexpected start in this year’s Australian Open as a late replacement for Novak Djokovic.

Novak Djokovic Australian Open

Novak Djokovic remains world No 1 in the latest ATP Tour rankings, but his days at the top of the pile are numbered! Photo: Reuters

Little-known Italian Salvatore Caruso has never gone beyond the third round at the Australian Open, but he was given an unexpected chance to do better on Sunday as a late replacement for Novak Djokovic.

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The Serbian world number one’s omission after losing his sensational legal battle over his coronavirus vaccination status opened the door for a “lucky loser” from qualifying to step up and take his place.

That fell to Caruso, a 29-year-old ranked 150th in the world who a week ago was beaten in the semi-finals of a lower-tier tournament in Bendigo, outside Melbourne.

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But while Djokovic had been scheduled to get the full prime-time Rod Laver Arena experience on Monday against Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic, Caruso will miss out playing on the main show court.

Novak Djokovic’s exit has seen a change in the schedule

With the nine-time Australian Open champion now out of the tournament, world number three Alexander Zverev’s clash against Daniel Altmaier will instead feature as the second match of the evening session on Rod Laver Arena with Caruso facing Kecmanovic on an outside court.

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