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Serbia's Novak Djokovic gestures to the public as he leaves the court at the end of his Monte Carlo ATP Masters Series Tournament at the Monte Carlo Country Club on April 13. Image Credit: AFP

Madrid: World No 1 and record 24-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic will not play at the Madrid Open this week.

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Media reports said the 36-year-old Serbian star had pulled out of the tournament and he was not included in the draw on Monday.

The 36-year-old is yet to win a title this season and has only played in four tournaments this year, having decided to lighten his schedule.

Veteran tennis great Rafael Nadal will continue his comeback from injury in Madrid and has been pitted against 16-year-old American Darwin Blanch in the first round.

Djokovic has now pulled out of the Madrid Open three times in four years.

The Serbian could still appear in Rome at the Italian Open before defending his French Open title from May 26.

Djokovic is a three-time champion at the two-week clay court event in the Spanish capital.

It is his second Masters 1000 withdrawal this year after skipping the Miami Open in March.

Djokovic attended Real Madrid’s 3-2 win over Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday and is expected to appear at the Laureus Awards in Madrid on Monday, where he is in contention to win the Sportsman of the Year trophy.

Veteran tennis great Nadal, 37, played at the Barcelona Open but was defeated in the second round by Alex de Minaur in straight sets.

If he defeats teenager Blanch then he will face Australian world No 11 De Minaur in the second round for the second week in a row.

Reigning champion and second seed Carlos Alcaraz said he was hoping to be fully fit to play in Madrid after a forearm problem and will face either Alexander Shevchenko or Arthur Rinderknech in the second round.

Jannik Sinner, second in the world rankings and top seed in Djokovic’s absence, will face either Italian compatriot Lorenzo Sonego or a qualifier in the second round.

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Rafael Nadal, 37, played at the Barcelona Open but was defeated in the second round by Alex de Minaur in straight sets. Image Credit: AFP

Laver Cup

Nadal will represent Team Europe at the Laver Cup in Berlin this September in what could be one of the final events of the 22-time Grand Slam champion’s career, organisers announced on Monday.

Nadal has said he expects this to be his final year on tour after struggling with a hip injury that sidelined him for virtually all of 2023 as well as the start of this season.

The Spaniard played doubles with Roger Federer at the 2022 Laver Cup as the Swiss star made a tearful farewell to the sport at the team competition.

Nadal will join compatriot Carlos Alcaraz, Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev as Europe attempt to win back the Laver Cup under coach Bjorn Borg from September 20-22.

“I am very happy to be playing Laver Cup in Berlin for Team Europe,” Nadal said in a statement.

“I have some really special memories from my Laver Cup experiences, including all the emotions from London two years ago playing alongside Roger for the last time.

“At this stage in my career I really want to go out there and make the most of every opportunity I am given.”

Hip problem

Nadal made a brief comeback in Brisbane in early January but missed the Australian Open and spent another three months out after he felt a hip problem resurface.

He returned to action at the Barcelona Open last week but lost in the second round of a tournament he has won 12 times.

The former world No 1, whose ranking has tumbled to 512, has not won a title since claiming the last of his record 14 French Open crowns two years ago.

Team World at this year’s Laver Cup will again be coached by John McEnroe, with Australian Alex de Minaur so far joined by US duo Taylor Fritz and Tommy Paul in the line-up.