Novak Djokovic has been named in the Serbian line-up for next January's ATP Cup team event, raising firm hopes the world No. 1 will play in the Australian Open.
Organisers have trumpeted that 18 of the world's top 20 players will take part in the 16-nation tournament in Sydney from Jan. 1-9, with Djokovic leading the top-seeded Serbians.
Djokovic hadn't publicly committed to defending his Australian Open title at Melbourne Park or revealed his vaccination status, with a mandate that he be double-jabbed to play.
While the ATP Cup doesn't have the same entry criteria, his inclusion for the Open warm-up tournament means he now appears likely to chase a 10th crown.
To play without being vaccinated in Sydney, the NSW government would have to apply for an exemption for Djokovic and the 34-year-old would have to undergo 14 days quarantine upon arrival.
Australia has been included in pool B alongside defending champions Russia, and strong squads from Italy and Austria.
Serbia will start favourite in Group A, which will also feature Norway, Chile and Spain, although world No. 6 Rafael Nadal hasn't been included in the latter's line-up.
A winner of 20 grand slam titles alongside Djokovic and Roger Federer, Nadal is still expected to contest the Australian Open, starting on Jan. 17.
The nine-day event will be played in Sydney at Ken Rosewall Arena and Qudos Bank Arena.