Djokovic unwilling to commit to Australian Open amid vaccine requirements

By Sports Desk October 31, 2021

Novak Djokovic is unwilling to commit to January's Australian Open as the defending champion awaits confirmation on travel and entry requirements amid Victoria's vaccine mandate.

The state of Victoria, where the year's opening grand slam takes place at Melbourne Park, has introduced a vaccine mandate for professional athletes and across most industries due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2021 Australian Open went ahead, albeit in February instead of January, and without fans for most of the tournament following a snap lockdown of Melbourne due to COVID-19.

Last week, Australia prime minister Scott Morrison said unvaccinated players would be allowed to contest the slam if they completed two weeks in quarantine, though Victoria premier Dan Andrews dismissed those comments, insisting athletes would not be granted access unless they received the COVID-19 vaccine.

A record nine-time Australian Open champion, world number one Djokovic remains non-committal over his looming title defence.

"Well, I'm going to decide on whether I go to Australia or not after I see the official statement from Tennis Australia," Djokovic said as he prepares for the Paris Masters – his first tournament since losing to Daniil Medvedev in September's US Open final.

"Right now, we don't have any official announcement or statement. So until that's out, I won't be talking about this anymore, because I don't want to be part of the stories about the assumptions and what-ifs.

"When official condition requirements to travel to Australia and play in Australia are out, then obviously I'll see what I personally do with that, and also the bigger group of the players, you know, because the situation is obviously different in Australia than most parts of the world."

World number two Medvedev also refused to confirm his Australian Open participation.

"I always said it, that I really like Novak's answer about this. I want to keep my medical, no matter if it's about vaccine, leg injury, head injury... I want to keep my medical private for a reason," Medvedev said.

"I feel like tennis is such a brutal sport where you're always one on one against your opponent, and any information you give him can go against you.

"If you're playing Australia, it's obvious you're vaccinated. So that's why I said I'm willing to play Australia, but I won't say if you'll see me there, but we're going to see in January."

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    "I like pressure but last year I started well here in Australia in the ATP Cup and I managed to be in the final here," he said.

    "The tournaments in Australia are always really important for me. I like to play in Australia on hard courts. I want to do better here than I did last year but it's not going to be easy.

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