Novak Djokovic’s vagueness about Australian Open participation labelled ‘disappointing’

Serbia's Novak Djokovic takes a breather

He has “some sympathy” for Novak Djokovic over his position about not wanting to reveal his vaccination status ahead of the Australian Open, but Mark Philippousis insists organisers could be forced to take matters into their own hands and go public.

The “will he or won’t he” question around world No 1 Djokovic’s participation at the season-opening Grand Slam continues following organisers’ decision to only allow vaccinated players who are vaccinated against Covid-19 to compete.

Djokovic has refused to reveal if he has been inoculated, but there are reports that the 20-time Grand Slam winner has asked for a medical exception to play in Melbourne while Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley has revealed that other players have been successful in applying to play without taking the vaccine.

Unvaccinated players will be at Australian Open as Novak Djokovic decision looms

However, former world No 8 Philippousis – who finished runner-up at the US Open in 1998 and at Wimbledon in 2003 – feels a decision should have been made by now.

“It’s disappointing it has taken this long to get clarity on Djokovic’s situation, as complex as it is,” he told Code Sports.

“I respect his position of not wanting to make his medical history public but there are so many people hanging on his decision and I feel they should’ve had an answer by now.

“Not everyone shares Djokovic’s position. I don’t mind telling people that I’m vaccinated but I understand that Novak has a different take to me on that issue.

“I actually have some sympathy for his position of not wanting his medical decisions made public but, whether or not he chooses to reveal his vaccination status, he needs to reveal his Australian Open status.

“And if he doesn’t then the tournament organisers should. They can’t make exceptions for him because he is the No 1 ranked player in the world. The rules are there for everyone.”

Djokovic was initially due to start his 2022 season at the ATP Cup, but he withdrew and opted to continue practicing in Spain and Philippousis says it will have an impact on his build-up to the hard-court major.

He added: “We’ve also reached the point where his (Djokovic’s) preparation for the tournament is surely being compromised.

“Most players like to arrive in Australia two, even three week before The Open to acclimatise to the Melbourne summer and courts conditions and really nail their preparation. We’re well inside that timeline now.”