Original 9, Hewitt, Raymond among nominees for Hall of Fame

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NEWPORT, R.I. — Billie Jean King and the other members of the Original 9 who laid the groundwork for the women’s professional tennis tour are the first group nominated together for the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

They join Jonas Bjorkman, Sergi Bruguera, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Lleyton Hewitt, Lisa Raymond and the late Dennis Van der Meer on the ballot announced Monday for the Hall’s Class of 2021.

Wednesday is the 50th anniversary of when King, elected to the Hall in 1987 for her accomplishments on the court, and eight other players – Peaches Bartkowicz, Rosie Casals, Judy Dalton, Julie Heldman, Kerry Melville Reid, Kristy Pigeon, Nancy Richey and Valerie Ziegenfuss – signed $1 contracts to participate in the first women-only tennis tournament, taking a stand against the disparity in prize money between men and women at the time.

That group and Van der Meer, who advocated for a universal teaching method in tennis, were nominated in the Contributor Category. Van der Meer died last year.

The nominees in the Player Category are Raymond, an American who won 11 Grand Slam titles in doubles or mixed doubles; Hewitt, an Australian who won the U.S. Open in 2001 and Wimbledon in 2002 and was ranked No. 1; Ferrero, a Spaniard who won the 2003 French Open and reached No. 1; Bruguera, a Spaniard who won the French Open in 1993 and 1994; and Bjorkman, a Swede who won nine Grand Slam doubles titles and was ranked No. 1 in doubles.

The full ballot now goes to the official voting group – which includes tennis journalists, historians and Hall of Fame members – and fans can vote online in the Player Category from Oct. 1-25.

Inductees will be announced early next year; the induction ceremony is scheduled for July 17.

Novak Djokovic to start 2023 in Adelaide ahead of Australian Open

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MELBOURNE, Australia – Novak Djokovic will open his 2023 campaign in Adelaide as he prepares for a shot at a 10th Australian Open crown a year after having his visa revoked on the eve of his title defense.

The 21-time major winner has been granted a visa by the Australian government and has been listed to play at the Adelaide International, which starts Jan. 1.

Serbia isn’t contesting the inaugural United Cup team competition, leaving Djokovic free to play regular warmup tournaments head of the Jan. 16-29 Australian Open.

He’ll be joined in the men’s draw at Adelaide by Russians Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada and Andy Murray.

Ons Jabeur, Aryna Sabalenka will headline the women’s draw.

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles last month confirmed Djokovic had been granted a visa to compete in Australia in January. The 35-year-old Serbian had been facing a possible three-year ban after being deported last January over his stance against COVID-19 vaccination.

Djokovic has won the Australian Open a record nine times, including the last three times he played. Rafael Nadal won this year’s title in Djokovic’s absence.

Djokovic was not vaccinated against COVID-19 when he arrived in Melbourne ahead of the 2022 tournament, but Australia has since lifted strict rules for unvaccinated travelers.

Karolina Pliskova reuniting with Sascha Bajin

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Two-time Grand Slam finalist Karolina Pliskova is reuniting with coach Sascha Bajin ahead of the 2023 season.

Pliskova posted on her website and her Twitter account about the move, which comes about six months after she and Bajin stopped working together. The pair originally teamed up in November 2020.

While Bajin was her coach, Pliskova reached the final at Wimbledon in 2021 before losing to champion Ash Barty. Pliskova also was the runner-up at the 2016 U.S. Open, where she defeated Serena Williams in the semifinals before being beat by Angelique Kerber for the trophy.

After splitting from Bajin in July, Pliskova was coached by Leos Friedl. Their results together included a quarterfinal run at the U.S. Open.

Bajin has worked as a coach or hitting partner with several top tennis players, including Grand Slam title winners Williams, Naomi Osaka, Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki.

“Thank you for having me back,” Bajin wrote on Twitter. “Let’s go get it.”

Pliskova is a 30-year-old from the Czech Republic who reached No. 1 in the WTA rankings in 2017 and finished this season at No. 31 after going 21-21 with no titles.

Her team also includes fitness specialist Jez Green and physiotherapist Martin Salvador.

Next year’s first Grand Slam tournament, the Australian Open, begins Jan. 16.