Djokovic must be vaccinated to defend Australian Open title, says minister

By Sports Desk October 20, 2021

Australian Minister for Immigration Alex Hawke insists Novak Djokovic would need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to enter the country and defend his Australian Open title.

The Serbian is the top-ranked player in the world and could move clear of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer for grand slam titles if he can claim his 21st at Melbourne Park.

However, Hawke's comments regarding vaccination requirements cast doubts over Djokovic's participation, with the 34-year-old previously declining to reveal his vaccination status.

"You'll need to be double vaccinated to visit Australia," Hawke said to Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio. "That's a universal application, not just to tennis players. I mean that every visitor to Australia will need to be double vaccinated.

"I don't have a message to Novak. I have a message to everybody that wishes to visit Australia. He'll need to be double vaccinated."

With recent reports suggesting that over a third of professional players have yet to be fully vaccinated, a significant number could be denied the chance to play in the opening grand slam of 2022.

The men's ATP and women's WTA tours have attempted to encourage players with reservations to get the vaccine, and Tennis Australia explained that it was working with government authorities regarding conditions for the tournament.

"Our understanding is that the details around international visitors entering the country are yet to be decided and we hope to have more information soon," Tennis Australia said in a statement.

Australia's health minister Greg Hunt defended the ruling, explaining that the decision had been taken with the safety of the country's citizens in mind.

"The [rules] apply to everyone without fear or favour," Hunt said. "It doesn't matter whether you are number one in the world or you are anything else."

Djokovic, who withdrew from the Indian Wells Masters this month, has won nine of his majors at the Australian Open.

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    Novak Djokovic knows "history is on the line" as he prepares to face Carlos Alcaraz in the Wimbledon final for the second year running.

    The Serb can move clear of Margaret Court and become the most decorated player in Grand Slam history with a 25th title, while matching Roger Federer's record of eight men's singles crowns at SW19.

    Djokovic will appear in his 10th Wimbledon final on Sunday, aiming to avenge his defeat by Alcaraz in a five-set thriller on Centre Court 12 months ago.

    The 37-year-old acknowledges there will be huge expectations on his shoulders when he steps out for a sixth consecutive championship match at the All England Club, but he will attempt to use it as "fuel" for success.

    "Obviously, I'm aware that Roger holds eight Wimbledon [titles]. I hold seven," he said. "History is on the line. Also, the 25th potential Grand Slam.

    "Of course, it serves as a great motivation, but at the same time, it's also a lot of pressure and expectation.

    "Any Grand Slam that I play, there's always history now on the line. I will try to use that as a fuel to play my best tennis.

    "Every time I step out on the court now, even though I'm 37 and competing with 21-year-olds, I still expect myself to win most of the matches, and people expect me to win 99% of the matches that I play.

    "I always have to come out on the court and perform my best in order to still be at a level with Carlos, Jannik [Sinner], Sascha [Zverev], Daniil [Medvedev], or any of those guys."

    Incredibly, Djokovic has endured a silverware-free season up to this point, while he withdrew from last month's French Open at the quarter-final stage to undergo knee surgery.

    However, the 24-time major champion highlighted 2018 as a previous example of a successful campaign that had started slowly.

    Indeed, he recovered from an elbow operation earlier in the year - along with fourth-round and quarter-final exits from the Australian Open and French Open respectively - to win Wimbledon and the US Open.

    "This year hasn't been that successful for me," he added. "It's probably the weakest results in the first six months I've had in many years.

    "That's okay. I had to adapt and accept that, and also really try to find a way out from the injury that I had and regroup.

    "At Wimbledon, historically, there have been seasons where I maybe wasn't playing at a desired level, but then I would win a Wimbledon title and then things would change.

    "Wimbledon just extracts the best of me and motivates me to always show up and perform the best I can."

  • Record-chasing Djokovic acknowledges 'history is on the line' ahead of Wimbledon final Record-chasing Djokovic acknowledges 'history is on the line' ahead of Wimbledon final

    Novak Djokovic knows "history is on the line" as he prepares to face Carlos Alcaraz in the Wimbledon final for the second year running.

    The Serb can move clear of Margaret Court and become the most decorated player in Grand Slam history with a 25th title, while matching Roger Federer's record of eight men's singles crowns at SW19.

    Djokovic will appear in his 10th Wimbledon final on Sunday, aiming to avenge his defeat by Alcaraz in a five-set thriller on Centre Court 12 months ago.

    The 37-year-old acknowledges there will be huge expectations on his shoulders when he steps out for a sixth consecutive championship match at the All England Club, but he will attempt to use it as "fuel" for success.

    "Obviously, I'm aware that Roger holds eight Wimbledon [titles]. I hold seven," he said. "History is on the line. Also, the 25th potential Grand Slam.

    "Of course, it serves as a great motivation, but at the same time, it's also a lot of pressure and expectation.

    "Any Grand Slam that I play, there's always history now on the line. I will try to use that as a fuel to play my best tennis.

    "Every time I step out on the court now, even though I'm 37 and competing with 21-year-olds, I still expect myself to win most of the matches, and people expect me to win 99% of the matches that I play.

    "I always have to come out on the court and perform my best in order to still be at a level with Carlos, Jannik [Sinner], Sascha [Zverev], Daniil [Medvedev], or any of those guys."

    Incredibly, Djokovic has endured a silverware-free season up to this point, while he withdrew from last month's French Open at the quarter-final stage to undergo knee surgery.

    However, the 24-time major champion highlighted 2018 as a previous example of a successful campaign that had started slowly.

    Indeed, he recovered from an elbow operation earlier in the year - along with fourth-round and quarter-final exits from the Australian Open and French Open respectively - to win Wimbledon and the US Open.

    "This year hasn't been that successful for me," he added. "It's probably the weakest results in the first six months I've had in many years.

    "That's okay. I had to adapt and accept that, and also really try to find a way out from the injury that I had and regroup.

    "At Wimbledon, historically, there have been seasons where I maybe wasn't playing at a desired level, but then I would win a Wimbledon title and then things would change.

    "Wimbledon just extracts the best of me and motivates me to always show up and perform the best I can."

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    "I think that day, knocking on her door, it changed my life," an emotional Krejcikova added. "Because in that period when I finished the juniors, I didn’t know what to do – should I continue playing pro or go into education?

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