Novak Probably Won’t Play the Australian Open
Novak Djokovic may say no to the AO.
Srdjan Djokovic, Novak’s father, cast doubt on the world No. 1 defending his Australian Open championship due to the mandatory vaccination policy for players to compete in the Melbourne major.
The senior Djokovic said nine-time champion Novak definitely wants to play the AO, but believes “probably not under these conditions” calling the mandatory vaccination policy a form of “blackmail.”
“Of course he would want to go with all his heart,” Djokovic’s father Srdjan told Serbian channel Prda TV in comments published by AFP. “Because he is a sportsman and there are a lot of our people, the (Serbian) diaspora, there who would be delighted to see Novak.
“But I really don’t know if that will happen. Probably not under these conditions, with this blackmail and when it’s done that way.”
Mr. Djokovic’s comments come days after AO tournament director Craig Tiley said he believed the 34-year-old Serbian will play Melbourne. Tiley said he believes Djokovic’s quest to claim a men’s record 21st Grand Slam championship would compel him to play Melbourne.
“Novak has won nine Australian Opens, I’m sure he wants to get to 10,” Tiley told Australia’s SEN Radio last week. “He’s on 20 Grand Slam titles as is Rafa Nadal, who is coming, and Roger Federer.
“One of them is going to surpass the other and I don’t think Novak would want to leave that to someone else.”
The 2022 Australian Open starts on January 17th.
Djokovic, who has declined to disclose if he’s received the Coronavirus vaccination, has said he’s waiting for an official statement from Tennis Australia on its vaccination policy before deciding if he will travel to Melbourne Park to defend his Australian Open crown.
In past press conferences Djokovic, who contracted Coronavirus during the Adria Tour in July, 2020, has said he opposes tournaments mandating vaccinations for players. Asked after his ATP Finals semifinal loss to Alexander Zverev last week if he will defend his Australian Open crown, Djokovic replied “We’ll see. We’ll have to wait and see.”
“I haven’t been talking to [Tennis Australia], to be honest,” Djokovic said. “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.”
Srdjan Djokovic said he is not sure if his son is vaccinated and defended Novak’s “exclusive and personal right” to be unvaccinated if that’s the case.
After Novak Djokovic defeated Daniil Medvedev in the 2021 Australian Open final for his 18th major crown, Srdjan Djokovic publicly predicted his son would break the all-time men’s major mark within 18 months—a feat he is on pace to attain.
Photo credit: Davis Cup Facebook