Medvedev confirms Australian Open participation amid debate over vaccine mandate

By Sports Desk November 09, 2021

Daniil Medvedev has confirmed he will play at the Australian Open next year, as the debate over vaccine mandates continues.

Medvedev was defeated by Novak Djokovic in the final of this year's tournament, though the Russian has gone on to enjoy a brilliant season.

He has won four titles, including his first grand slam, beating Djokovic at the US Open in September to end the latter's pursuit of a clean sweep of the four majors in 2021.

Djokovic and Medvedev met again on Sunday, with the world number one coming out on top to clinch his sixth Paris Masters title and a record 37th triumph at ATP 1000 events.

Medvedev had appeared non-committal about being vaccinated against COVID-19, which is likely to be a requirement for any player wishing to compete at the Australian Open, but he dispelled doubts around his involvement when he tweeted on Tuesday: "See you in January @AustralianOpen."

While Medvedev will be involved in Melbourne, the participation of Djokovic – who is a nine-time Australian Open champion – is not yet known.

The Serbian has previously appeared hesitant over the coronavirus vaccine mandate, though he has not revealed whether he has been vaccinated or not.

Australia has enforced strict measures throughout the pandemic, with Melbourne having been under lockdown on six occasions since March 2020. Indeed, the city only lifted its most recent restrictions towards the end of October.

Athletes arriving in Australia prior to last year's event had to go through a mandatory two-week hotel quarantine.

Despite Australia's vaccination programme gaining momentum, travellers who are not citizens must be able to provide proof of vaccination and a negative PCR test result, while quarantine regulations vary depending on state rules.

Tennis Australia is reportedly still hopeful of securing a deal for unvaccinated players to compete in the tournament, subject to a two-week quarantine, with prime minister Scott Morrison suggesting players could be granted an exemption. 

On Tuesday, though, Victorian premier Daniel Andrews insisted players will have to be vaccinated.

"I'm not going to have people sitting in the grandstands having done the right thing, only to have millionaire players that ought [to] be vaccinated running around the place being essentially at such higher risk of spreading this – getting it and giving it," he said.

Speaking last month, Djokovic said: "I don't know if I'm going to Australia, I don't know what's going on. Currently, the situation is not good at all.

"Of course, I want to go, Australia is my most successful grand slam, I want to participate, I love this sport, I still have motivation."

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    Serena Williams, the most decorated tennis player in the open era, has hinted at retirement following the US Open.

    One day on from winning her first singles match in 430 days at the Canadian Open, the legendary 23-time grand slam winner confirmed she is "evolving away" from the sport in an interview with Vogue Magazine.

    Williams, who is one grand slam title away from matching Margaret Court's all-time record, appears set for one last shot at matching that haul at Flushing Meadows.

    With Williams likely to call time on a spectacular career following one last outing at her home slam, below are 10 key quotes from her interview with Vogue.

    THE KEY QUOTES

    Reluctancy to step away 

    "I've been reluctant to admit to myself or anyone else that I have to move on from playing tennis. Alexis, my husband, and I have hardly talked about it; it's like a taboo topic.

    "It's like it's not real until you say it out loud. It comes up, I get an uncomfortable lump in my throat, and I start to cry. The only person I've really gone there with is my therapist."

    Evolution

    "I have never liked the word 'retirement'. It doesn't feel like a modern word to me. I've been thinking of this as a transition, but I want to be sensitive about how I use that word, which means something very specific and important to a community of people.

    "Maybe the best word to describe what I'm up to is 'evolution'. I'm here to tell you that I'm evolving away from tennis, towards other things that are important to me."

    No joy in reaching a "crossroads"

    "Ashleigh Barty was number one in the world when she left the sport this March, and I believe she really felt ready to move on. Caroline Wozniacki, who is one of my best friends, felt a sense of relief when she retired in 2020.

    "Praise to these people, but I'm going to be honest. There is no happiness in this topic for me. I know it's not the usual thing to say, but I feel a great deal of pain. 

    "I hate it. I hate that I have to be at this crossroads. I keep saying to myself, I wish it could be easy for me, but it's not. I'm torn. I don't want it to be over, but at the same time I'm ready for what's next."

    Family life key

    "I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family. I don't think it's fair. If I were a guy, I wouldn't be writing this because I'd be out there playing and winning while my wife was doing the physical labour of expanding our family. 

    "Maybe I'd be more of a Tom Brady if I had that opportunity. Don't get me wrong, I love being a woman, and I loved every second of being pregnant.

    "A lot of people don't realise that I was two months pregnant when I won the Australian Open in 2017. But I'm turning 41 this month, and something's got to give."

    Wanting Court's record 

    "There are people who say I'm not the GOAT [greatest of all time] because I didn't pass Margaret Court's record of 24 grand slam titles, which she achieved before the open era that began in 1968. 

    "I'd be lying if I said I didn't want that record. Obviously I do."

    Pride in "extraordinary" record

    "If I'm in a grand slam final, then yes, I am thinking about that record. Maybe I thought about it too much, and that didn't help. 

    "The way I see it, I should have had 30-plus grand slams. I had my chances after coming back from giving birth.

    "But I didn't get there. 'Shoulda, woulda, coulda'. I didn't show up the way I should have or could have. But I showed up 23 times, and that's fine. Actually it's extraordinary."

    Tiger's advice 

    "This spring, I had the itch to get back on the court for the first time in seven months. I was talking to Tiger Woods, who's a friend, and I told him I needed his advice on my tennis career. He was adamant that I be a beast, the same way he is!"

    "Magical" Wimbledon return

    "It felt magical to pick up a racket again. And I was good. I was really good. I went back and forth about whether to play Wimbledon, and the US Open after that."

    "I don’t know if I will be ready to win New York, but I'm going to try."

    "Unfortunately I wasn't ready to win Wimbledon this year. And I don't know if I will be ready to win New York. But I'm going to try. And the lead-up tournaments will be fun. 

    "I know there's a fan fantasy that I might have tied Margaret that day in London, then maybe beat her record in New York, and then at the trophy ceremony say, 'See ya!' But I'm not looking for some ceremonial, final on-court moment."

    Inspiring female athletes

    "I'd like to think that thanks to me, women athletes can be themselves. They can play with aggression and pump their fists. 

    "They can wear what they want and say what they want and kick butt and be proud of it all."

  • Serena Williams reveals tennis retirement is imminent Serena Williams reveals tennis retirement is imminent

    Serena Williams has revealed she is about to retire from tennis, announcing "the countdown has begun" with the US Open seemingly set to be her final tournament.

    With 23 grand slam singles titles, Williams is the most decorated player of the Open Era, but her most recent major success came at the 2017 Australian Open.

    The 40-year-old is one title shy of Margaret Court's all-time record and appears set for one last shot at matching the Australian.

    Williams wrote on Tuesday of her plan to "move in a different direction" after "these next few weeks" following a long piece in Vogue.

    She has already been named on the entry list for the US Open, which starts at Flushing Meadows at the end of August.

    Posting an image of her interview on Instagram, Williams said: "There comes a time in life when we have to decide to move in a different direction.

    "That time is always hard when you love something so much. My goodness do I enjoy tennis.

    "But now, the countdown has begun. I have to focus on being a mom, my spiritual goals and finally discovering a different but just as exciting Serena.

    "I'm just going to relish these next few weeks."

    Within the Vogue piece, she added: "I'm turning 41 this month, and something's got to give.

    "I have never liked the word retirement. It doesn't feel like a modern word to me.

    "I've been thinking of this as a transition, but I want to be sensitive about how I use that word, which means something very specific and important to a community of people.

    "Maybe the best word to describe what I'm up to is evolution. I'm here to tell you that I'm evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me."

    Williams wrote at length about the reasons for her decision, saying: "I started a family. I want to grow that family."

    The American great had hinted at this decision on Monday following her defeat of Nuria Parrizas-Diaz at the Canadian Open.

    That was Williams' first singles win in 430 days, and she said: "I guess there's just a light at the end of the tunnel.

    "I don't know, I'm getting closer to the light, so… lately that's been it for me. I can't wait to get to that light."

    When asked what "the light" means to her, Williams responded: "Freedom." She added: "I can't do this forever."

  • BREAKING NEWS: Serena Williams reveals tennis retirement is imminent BREAKING NEWS: Serena Williams reveals tennis retirement is imminent

    Serena Williams has revealed she is about to retire from tennis, announcing "the countdown has begun" with the US Open seemingly set to be her final tournament.

    With 23 grand slam singles titles, Williams is the most decorated player of the Open Era, but her most recent major success came at the 2017 Australian Open.

    The 40-year-old is one title shy of Margaret Court's all-time record and appears set for one last shot at matching the Australian.

    In a long piece in Vogue, Williams wrote of her plan to "move in a different direction" after "these next few weeks".

    Williams has already been named on the entry list for the US Open, which starts at Flushing Meadows at the end of August.

     

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