Russian player to miss out on Australian Open despite being vaccinated

Natalia Vikhlyantseva in action at the Ladies Open Lausanne 2021

Natalia Vikhlyantseva won’t be able to compete in any events at the start of the year or the season-opening Grand Slam as they’re in Australia, and the country doesn’t recognise the vaccine she’s had.

The Russian player has been vaccinated against Covid-19, but she’s being protected by Russian made Sputnik V which isn’t yet recognised by Australian authorities.

For all events in the Australian summer of tennis which kicks off the tennis season it will be mandatory for everyone to be jabbed, which includes players and spectators, but only AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna and Jassen/Johnson & Johnson have been approved for use in Australia.

“Unfortunately, I will not participate in this year AO event,” the former world No 54 said on Twitter.

“I’m really happy with a level of tennis I showed on a last few events and I wish to play in (Australia), but Sputnik is not verified yet.

“Good luck for all participants and AO team, who always made amazing events.”

The 24-year-old will not only be missing out on the Australian Open but also lead-up events in Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne but Tennis Australia is confident that at least 95% of players will be vaccinated with an approved jab in time for the first tournament – the ATP Cup on the ATP Tour and the Adelaide International for the WTA Tour.

One player who is still yet to reveal his vaccination status is Novak Djokovic which could mean he too misses out on all the events in Australia and time is running out for him as designated chartered flights start leaving for Australia on December 27 and the next deadline for players to commit to the competition is the next day.

The nine-time Australian Open champion was included on the official entry list which caused speculation about whether he was going to use a loophole to get around the vaccine mandate but Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley has denied this and is adamant that all players need to be fully jabbed with an approved vaccine to play in the tournaments.

The Australian Open starts on January 17.