Wimbledon champion Djokovic Friday was named the fourth player of the six-member Team Europe. The 35-year-old Serb joining his long-time rivals at the fifth edition of the ATP-sanctioned event from Sept. 23-25.
Tennis fans are used to seeing Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray fight tooth and nail to beat each other at the Grand Slams but the "Big Four" are set to play together in the same team for the first time at the Laver Cup in London.
Named after Australian great Rod Laver, the three-day team event pits six of Europe's top players against six from the rest of the world. "It's the only competition where you can play in a team environment with guys that you're normally competing against and to be joining Rafa, Roger and Andy – three of my biggest all-time rivals – it's going to be a truly unique moment in the history of our sport," Djokovic said in a statement.
Nadal, Djokovic, Federer and Murray have dominated men's tennis over the last two decades, winning 66 Grand Slam titles between them. Nadal holds a men's record 22 Grand Slam titles with Djokovic, who played in the second edition of the Laver Cup in 2018, one behind.
London's O2 Arena, which hosted the men's season-ending ATP Finals from 2009 to 2020, will stage the Cup with Team Europe, captained by Bjorn Borg, having won all the previous editions. "I don't think I could have imagined having these four icons of the sport on one team together," said Borg. "I know they, like I, appreciate the significance of this moment and will be truly up for it. "Each year our goal is to win. With Rafa, Roger, Andy and Novak on the team, I like our chances."
Team World captain John McEnroe has named Felix Auger-Aliassime, Taylor Fritz and Diego Schwartzman as three members of his team.
Djokovic is also sought for U.S. Open, though he may not make it to the tournament. Almost 12,000 people have signed an online petition calling for the United States Tennis Association (USTA) to work with the government to allow him participate in the U.S. Open, despite his refusal to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
Djokovic will not be able to play in the year's final Grand Slam due to current rules under which travelers seeking to enter the United States have to be fully vaccinated and provide a proof before boarding flights. The 21-time major champion won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon titles in 2021, but was unable to defend his Melbourne Park crown this year after being deported from Australia over his vaccination status in January. "There is absolutely no reason at this stage of the pandemic to not allow Djokovic to play at the U.S. Open 2022," said the change.org petition, which was launched on June 21. "(The) U.S. Government and USTA must work together to allow him to play ... MAKE IT HAPPEN, USTA!"
The Serb, who retained his Wimbledon crown with a win over Australia's Nick Kyrgios earlier this month, in February said he was prepared to miss Grand Slam tournaments rather than take the COVID-19 vaccine. "I'd like to play the U.S. Open but if it doesn't happen it's not the end of the world, nor the first Grand Slam I have to withdraw from," Djokovic said after winning the Wimbledon. The main draw at the U.S. Open begins on Aug. 29.