Novak Djokovic gives his first thoughts on the Australian Open vaccine mandate
World No.1 Novak Djokovic is about to find himself in the eye of a storm after he refused to confirm whether he will compete in January’s Australian Open following the move by authorities in Melbourne that requires all players to be vaccinated to enter the tournament.
The world number one has previously expressed scepticism about vaccination and now he may be promoted by anti-vax campaigners as a poster boy for their effort if he pulls out of the event on the grounds that he will not take a Covid jab.
While that may be a harsh judgement on the Serbian player who has repeatedly expressed his doubts over whether tennis players should be forced to take the vaccine to play in major events, he now faces a tough decision over what happens next ahead of the first Grand Slam of 2022.
Defending Australian Open champion Djokovic is set to find himself at the heart of the Covid vaccine debate and he was quizzed on the issue after a defeat in his ATP Finals last four match against Alexander Zverev on Saturday night.
When asked about the likelihood of his presence in Melbourne with a brief and non-committal answer of: “We’ll see.”
Pressed further on the subject, Djokovic said: “I haven’t been talking to them. I was just waiting to hear what the news is going to be. Now that I know, we’ll just have to wait and see.”
The 34-year-old spoke out again this week against vaccine mandates, saying: “The freedom of choice is essential for everyone, whether it’s me or somebody else.
“Doesn’t really matter whether it’s vaccination or anything else in life. You should have the freedom to choose, to decide what you want to do. In this particular case, what you want to put in your body.”
Zverev, a good friend of Djokovic, hopes the reigning champion will be able to play at Melbourne Park but respects the state of Victoria’s right to set its own requirements.
He said: “This is a very tough one because it’s very political. But we are visiting another country. This is not about tennis. This is about the virus that is going on.
“We need to follow the rules and follow the guidelines. I hope he’s able to play. I’m number three in the world so, if he doesn’t play, it’s easier to win the tournament. This is obvious. Also he’s number one in the world so he should be there.
“Hopefully the Australian government will make an exemption or whatever it is that they can do for him to be able to participate there.”
Iga Swiatek doesn’t have another epic winning streak on her mind
Iga Swiatek is committed to taking things match by match.
Andy Roddick backs Coco Gauff after bizarre Dubai umpire row
Andy Roddick believes that chair umpire Pierre Bacchi was “completely wrong” in the incident involving Coco Gauff.
Dasha Medvedeva makes honest confession about being married to Daniil Medvedev
Dasha Medvedeva has spoken about what it has been like becoming a parent alongside ATP Tour star Daniil Medvedev.
Staggering price charged by Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz for private sessions revealed
Fans will have to pay a six-figure sum for a private session with the Spanish icons in Las Vegas.
Emma Raducanu reveals her biggest investment as a tennis player
Emma Raducanu has opened up on what it really takes to be a WTA Tour professional.
Emma Raducanu lifts the lid on her daily routine from skincare to mental health
What goes into a day for Emma Raducanu?
Juan Carlos Ferrero addresses if Carlos Alcaraz’s goal to break Novak Djokovic records is a good thing
“They are objectives that he has in the very long term, we know the difficulty that something like that requires.”
Morgan Riddle vs Paige Lorenze: Who has more social media clout?
Who makes the biggest splash on social media, Morgan Riddle or Paige Lorenze?
Simona Halep reflects on ‘harrowing’ experience of doping ban as she awaits her fate
“The nightmare that I have lived for a year and half has finished.”
Rafael Nadal reveals the two most important matches of his career – and one is surprising
Rafael Nadal picked two epic contests when naming the most important matches he has played.