Novak Djokovic is "being held captive" in a room guarded by police after arriving in Melbourne for the upcoming Australian Open, the tennis star's father has alleged.

World number one Djokovic announced on Tuesday that he had received a medical exemption to play in the tournament he has won a record nine times. 

That medical exemption was expected to allow Djokovic to enter the country, regardless of his vaccination status, which he has yet to formally disclose.

However, the Victorian government reportedly rejected an application from Border Force as a member of Djokovic's support team made an error in requesting a sub-class of visa.

Further doubt was cast over Djokovic's chances of being allowed to contest the first grand slam of the year when Jaala Pulford, the acting sports minister of the state of Victoria, later declared on social media that the Serbian's application will not be supported.

And amid later reports that the 20-time major winner could be forced to fly back home, Djokovic's father Srdjan hit out at authorities for their treatment of his son. 

"Novak is currently in a room which no one can enter," he told the B92 internet portal. "In front of the room are two policemen."

Srdjan added to Russian news agency Sputnik: "I have no idea what's going on. My son has been held captive for five hours.

"This is a fight for the libertarian world, not just a fight for Novak, but a fight for the whole world.

"If they don't let him go in half an hour, we will gather on the street, this is a fight for everyone."

The latest twist in the Djokovic saga comes after Australian prime minister Scott Morrison stated that Djokovic "will be on the next plane home" if he fails to prove he merits medical exemption to play in the tournament.

Australian Open director Craig Tiley insisted on Tuesday that Djokovic had not been given a "special favour" to play in the tournament, which is scheduled to run from January 17 until January 30.

Novak Djokovic's participation at the Australian Open is reportedly back in doubt due to an issue with his visa.

World number one Djokovic flew into Melbourne on Wednesday, a day after revealing he had been cleared to take part in the tournament after receiving a medical exemption.

The Serbian has not directly addressed whether he has been vaccinated against COVID-19, but players who compete at Melbourne Park either require proof they have been jabbed or an exemption.

He has spoken openly and critically about vaccine mandates, insisting there should be freedom of choice in all walks of life.

Many Australians criticised the decision to welcome Djokovic into the country, but the 34-year-old appears to have hit another stumbling block in his battle to defend the title he has won a record nine times.

 

Reports from Australia suggested that the Victorian government had rejected an application from Border Force regarding Djokovic's visa as a member of his support team made an error in requesting a sub-class of visa.

And Jaala Pulford, the acting sports minister of the state of Victoria, later declared on social media that Djokovic's application will not be supported.

"The Federal Government has asked if we will support Novak Djokovic's visa application to enter Australia," she posted on Twitter.

"We will not be providing Novak Djokovic with individual visa application support to participate in the 2022 Australian Open Grand Slam.

"We've always been clear on two points: visa approvals are a matter for the Federal Government, and medical exemptions are a matter for doctors."

The latest twist in the Djokovic saga comes after Australian prime minister Scott Morrison stated that Djokovic "will be on the next plane home" if he fails to prove he merits medical exemption to play in the tournament.

Australian Open director Craig Tiley insisted on Tuesday that the 20-time major champion had not been given a "special favour" to play in the tournament, which is scheduled to run from January 17 until January 30.

Novak Djokovic should clear up any doubts over the reasons for his medical exemption to play at the Australian Open, says Toni Nadal.

Tournament organisers have faced a backlash after it was announced this week that men's world number one Djokovic has been granted a medical exemption to play in the first grand slam of the year.

Protocols in Australia require proof that competitors and staff have been jabbed or have a medical exemption to compete at Melbourne Park. Djokovic has thus far refused to state whether he has been vaccinated.

Australian prime minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday that Djokovic would be on the "next plane home" if he fails to prove he is medically exempt, though tournament organiser Craig Tiley insisted the 20-time major champion had not been given a "special favour" to play.

Nadal, the uncle of Djokovic's long-term rival and also 20-time major victor Rafael Nadal, has now weighed in, expressing surprise the Serbian did not pull out of the tournament and urging him to clarify his situation.

In his column for El Pais, Nadal wrote: "I must admit that, until Tuesday's announcement, I thought that the Serbian player would give up participating in the tournament or that he would get the vaccine.

"The way I understand it, if you have requested and received an exemption then it's because you must not have been administered any of the authorised [vaccines].

"There are almost six million people who have lost their lives due to this damn virus and many other millions who have received the vaccine.

"I want to think that Novak is no stranger to all this and that he will clear up the doubts as a sign of human sensitivity and understanding."

The Australian Open begins on January 17.

Novak Djokovic will be on the "next plane home" if he fails to prove he merits a medical exemption to play in the Australian Open.

Tournament organisers have faced a backlash after it was announced this week that Djokovic has been granted a medical exemption to play in the first grand slam of the year.

The Serbian has refused to state whether he has been vaccinated, but protocols in Australia require proof that competitors and staff have been jabbed or have a medical exemption to compete at Melbourne Park.

Tournament director Craig Tiley insisted that the 20-time major champion had not been given a "special favour" to play in the tournament.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday stated that Djokovic will not defend his title if he fails to show that he is exempt.

He told reporters: "We await his presentation and what evidence he provides us to support that.

"If that evidence is insufficient, then he won't be treated any different to anyone else and he'll be on the next plane home. There should be no special rules for Novak Djokovic at all. None whatsoever."

Tiley told The Today Show on Tuesday: "There's been no special favour. There's been no special opportunity granted to Novak.

"As an organisation and as a sport, we've done what everyone else does and would do if they wanted to come to Australia and under certain conditions.

"And we have abided by those conditions and I know Australia's had the most comprehensive response to COVID of any nation in the world. And our governments have done everything they humanly possibly can to keep us safe.

"It's ultimately the decision of the medical experts and we follow that accordingly. In this case, Novak made that application.

"And like others, there's been 26 athletes and their primary support staff that have made applications and a handful of those have been granted by the panel.

"The conditions in which any tennis player comes in, no matter who they are, are conditions that have been put on tennis and put on anyone coming into Australia by the Australian government."

The Australian Open begins on January 17.

Novak Djokovic has not been granted any "special favour" for a medical exemption to play in the Australian Open, tournament director Craig Tiley insisted.

Djokovic announced on Tuesday that he was on his way to Melbourne for the first grand slam of 2022, a revelation that was met with a host of criticism.

The world number one has not openly addressed whether he has been vaccinated for COVID-19, but protocols in Australia require proof that competitors have been jabbed or have a medical exemption to feature at Melbourne Park.

The Serbian has been vocal in his opposition for vaccine mandates, calling for freedom across the world, and is now expected to be welcomed with a frosty reception by those in the country battling a surge in cases of the Omicron variant.

Tiley spoke on the matter, coinciding with confirmation from the Australian Open that the 34-year-old was set to compete, as he referenced the "fair and independent protocols" in granting exemptions.

The tournament director has since reiterated his defence over the decision to allow Djokovic to defend his title, and search for a record 21st singles grand slam triumph, as he insisted there had been no preferential treatment.

Tiley said on Australia's The Today Show: "There's been no special favour. There's been no special opportunity granted to Novak.

"As an organisation and as a sport, we've done what everyone else does and would do if they wanted to come to Australia and under certain conditions.

"And we have abided by those conditions and I know Australia's had the most comprehensive response to COVID of any nation in the world. And our governments have done everything they humanly possibly can to keep us safe.

"It's ultimately the decision of the medical experts and we follow that accordingly. In this case, Novak made that application.

"And like others, there's been 26 athletes and their primary support staff that have made applications and a handful of those have been granted by the panel.

"The conditions in which any tennis player comes in, no matter who they are, are conditions that have been put on tennis and put on anyone coming into Australia by the Australian government."

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal also sit with Djokovic on 20 major crowns, but the Swiss star is already ruled out of the tournament, which starts on January 17, through injury.

Nadal could yet compete after posting pictures showing he was in Melbourne as he continues to recover from a positive COVID-19 test in recent weeks.

Jamie Murray has questioned why Novak Djokovic was granted special dispensation to compete at the Australian Open.

Seven-times grand slam doubles champion Murray was asked about the decision to grant Djokovic a medical exemption for the year's first grand slam tournament at Melbourne Park.

Players have been obliged to either prove they are vaccinated against COVID-19 or apply for an exemption, which tournament organisers said involved a "rigorous" process to prove eligibility.

World number one Djokovic is a nine-time Australian Open men's singles champion, yet it was unclear until Tuesday whether he would be allowed to play the event this year.

There has been early backlash to the decision to clear him, with Melbourne having been hit by multiple lockdowns during the pandemic and many believing only vaccinated players should be playing.

Murray, brother of Djokovic's long-time friend and rival Andy Murray, spoke after the Serbian was permitted to travel into Australia and said he doubted he would get the same treatment.

Asked about the situation in an ATP Cup news conference, Jamie Murray said: "I don't know what to say about that really. I think if it was me that wasn't vaccinated, I wouldn't be getting an exemption.

"But well done to him for getting cleared to come to Australia and compete."

 

Djokovic may wish to elaborate further on the factors behind him being given the green light to travel into the state of Victoria, and will doubtless face media questions about the situation once he arrives.

However, the 20-time grand slam winner has been unwilling to disclose his vaccination status until now, which suggests there is little prospect of him offering further medical insight at this stage.

Asked if he felt it was not a fair decision to exempt Djokovic, Jamie Murray added: "Whatever you want to say, that's the situation."

Murray, 35, was interrupted at that point by Great Britain captain Liam Broady, who said: "At the end of the day, you have to trust he has a valid reason for the medical exemption, that's all you can say about it really, isn't it."

However, Broady had no doubt Djokovic would play the Australian Open, which begins on January 17, and claimed it was a foregone conclusion.

In an Instagram story, Broady posted a screenshot of Djokovic's announcement, adding the remark: "The second AO announced there would be exemptions 8 weeks ago we all knew."

Novak Djokovic went through "rigorous" checks before being handed a medical exemption to compete at the Australian Open, tournament chiefs insisted.

A wave of criticism followed Djokovic's announcement that he was on his way to Melbourne for the season's first grand slam tournament.

The Serbian has not directly addressed whether he has been vaccinated against COVID-19, but players who compete at Melbourne Park either require proof they have been jabbed or an exemption.

He has spoken openly and critically about vaccine mandates, insisting there should be freedom of choice in all walks of life.

Many Australians on social media spoke out against the decision to welcome Djokovic into the country, predicting he could face a frosty reception while the country battles surging cases of the Omicron variant.

Djokovic will be bidding to win a 10th Australian Open title and a record 21st singles grand slam, more than any man in history.

The 34-year-old had his bags packed and was awaiting a flight at an airport when he broke the news of his trip to Australia on Tuesday.

Australian Open chiefs confirmed he had been granted permission to play, saying in a statement: "Novak Djokovic will compete at the Australian Open and is on his way to Australia.

"Djokovic applied for a medical exemption which was granted followting a rigorous review process involving two separate independent panels of medical experts. One of those was the independent medical exemption review panel appointed by the Victorian Department of Health."

There has been no detail given of why Djokovic qualified for an exemption, and unless he is willing to disclose personal medical information it is set to remain that way.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said it remained the case that all involved with the tournament, from fans through to players, must be fully vaccinated or have an exemption permission allowing them to attend.

Tiley said: "Fair and independent protocols were established for assessing medical exemption applications that will enable us to ensure Australian Open 2022 is safe and enjoyable for everyone.

"Central to this process was that the decisions were made by independent medical experts and that every applicant was given due consideration."

Explaining the process of securing exemptions, the Australian Open indicated in its statement that Djokovic would not have been treated as a special case.

It pointed out that a government-appointed panel assessed all cases that got past the first stage of checks, and that "the process included the redaction of personal information to ensure privacy for all applicants".

This should mean Djokovic was not identifiable to those making the crucial decisions about whether he should be allowed to take part.

"The multi-step independent review process was designed to ensure the safety of everyone at the Australian Open," the tournament statement added.

Novak Djokovic has announced he will play at the Australian Open, revealing he has been given "exemption permission" to compete.

The world number one and nine-time champion in Melbourne has not declared whether he has been vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.

Australia has stringent rules about who should be allowed to enter the country, with tennis players needing to be either vaccinated or hold a medical exemption in order to play the grand slam tournament.

Serbian superstar Djokovic wrote on Instagram on Tuesday: "I’ve spent fantastic quality time with my loved ones over the break and today I'm heading Down Under with an exemption permission. Let's go 2022!!"

Djokovic's message was accompanied by a picture of him at an airport, with a tennis racquet bag atop his luggage on a trolley, indicating he was ready to board his flight to Australia.

He told his followers: "Happy New Year, everybody! Wishing you all health, love, and happiness in every present moment and may you feel love and respect towards all beings on this wonderful planet."

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said on Sunday he expected defending champion Djokovic's status for the event to become clear within days. The grounds for Djokovic receiving an exemption have yet to be disclosed, and it is unclear whether they will ever be made public.

The 20-time grand slam winner withdrew from the ATP Cup in Sydney last week, begging questions of whether he would head to Australia at all, but now that appears to have been cleared up.

Djokovic has steadfastly refused to disclose whether he has been jabbed. His declaration that he has been given an exemption points to him not having been vaccinated.

The 34-year-old won in Melbourne last February and followed up by triumphing at the French Open and Wimbledon to join Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer on 20 major titles.

Djokovic will be attempting to seize the outright lead by capturing a 21st slam, with the Australian Open running from January 17-30 at Melbourne Park.

He was on the same mission at the US Open but lost out to Daniil Medvedev in the New York final in September, as the Russian landed his first grand slam title at Flushing Meadows.

Medvedev was the man Djokovic beat in last year's Australian Open final, and is again expected to be a major challenger this time around.

Novak Djokovic has announced he will play at the Australian Open, revealing he has been given "exemption permission" to compete.

The world number one and nine-time champion in Melbourne has not declared whether he has been vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.

Australia has stringent rules about who should be allowed to enter the country, with tennis players needing to be either vaccinated or hold a medical exemption in order to play the grand slam tournament.

Serbian superstar Djokovic wrote on Instagram: "I’ve spent fantastic quality time with my loved ones over the break and today I'm heading Down Under with an exemption permission. Let's go 2022!!"

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley says it should become clear in "the coming days" if Novak Djokovic will defend his title at Melbourne Park this month.

Djokovic withdrew from the ATP Cup in Sydney last week and has not yet arrived in Melbourne for the first grand slam of the year.

Players must be vaccinated or have a medical exemption in order to play in the opening major of 2022 and Djokovic has refused to disclose whether he has been jabbed.

Tiley is unsure whether the world number one will go in search of a record 21st grand slam title at the Australian Open, which starts on January 17.

"We've still got a few charter flights coming in until the end of this week and then all the players will be here," he told the Nine Network.

"As far as the status relates to Novak, I think we'll have a much clearer picture in the coming days otherwise it's getting pretty late to show up and play the Australian Open."

He added: "There's quite a bit to play out and I think it will play out in the coming days."

Djokovic has won the Australian Open men's singles title a record nine times and beat Daniil Medvedev in the 2021 final. 

Crowds came flocking back in force, we had the full complement of golf majors and tennis grand slams, and sport almost ran smoothly over the past 12 months.

To boot, there were sensational moments, featuring both the biggest names in sport and some that few had heard of at this time last year.

Here, Stats Perform looks back at some of the biggest stories of the year, and the numbers that made them so remarkable.

Jacobs, the shock Tokyo Olympics sprint king

Entering 2021, Italy's Lamont Marcell Jacobs had a career-best of 10.03 seconds for the 100 metres. By most standards that is staggeringly quick, but at the very elite level of sprinting it ranks as only middling. To put it into some context, 34 men ran quicker than 10.03 seconds in 2021. Jacobs finished only 19th at the 2019 World Championship and few outside of athletics circles knew the name. The former long-jumper grabbed a little attention when he produced a world-leading 6.47 seconds to win the 60 metres at the European Indoor Championships in March, then he ran 9.95 for the 100m in Savona in May, but he still headed to the Tokyo Olympics as a big outsider, not expected to be a factor. Jacobs made a mockery of his lowly billing, as he powered to personal bests in the heats and semi-finals before doing so again in the final, dashing home first in 9.80 seconds to grab gold and leaving rivals gasping in astonishment. He led Italy to sprint relay gold too, a glorious double in that country's remarkable year of success.

Emma Raducan-who? From A level exams to US Open top marks

Twelve months ago – no, make that barely six – London-based Raducanu was simply not a factor in grand slam discussions. Fresh out of school, she had to fight to earn a wildcard for Wimbledon when organisers initially baulked at the idea, but they were persuaded and Raducanu went on to reach the fourth round. The teenager who was born in Canada and has a Romanian father and Chinese mother had arrived, but it was at the US Open that she roared into the history books. There was no wildcard in New York for the British youngster, but Raducanu won three qualifying matches and then raced through the main draw, defeating 19-year-old Canadian Leylah Fernandez in the title match. She did not drop a set in 10 matches and became the first women in the Open era to win 10 main-draw matches in her first two grand slams. It made her the first qualifier to win a slam and the first US Open women's singles winner since Serena Williams in 2014 to triumph at the tournament without dropping a set along the way. The $2.5million in prize money was followed by endorsement offers from across the world as Raducanu became an instant superstar. The tennis world waits to see what comes next.

No country for old men as US win Ryder Cup

The youngest Ryder Cup team ever assembled by the United States torched European hopes at Whistling Straits in September, scoring a 19-9 victory. That was the widest margin of victory by either side since Europe, rather than Great Britain and Ireland, became the USA's opposition in 1979. Dustin Johnson bounced back from losing four of his five matches in the 2018 edition to finish with a 5-0 record, just the third player in US v Europe battles to finish with a perfect record (after Larry Nelson in 1979 and Francesco Molinari in 2018). Johnson, at 37, was the oldest player on the team. European veteran Lee Westwood matched Nick Faldo's record of 11 appearances in the match, while Sergio Garcia stretched his points record from 25.5 to 28.5 as he and Jon Rahm combined well, but it was emphatically an event that belonged to the host Americans.

Veteran Mickelson still had his day 

He might have been absent for the US team's Ryder Cup triumph, but Phil Mickelson's name was up in lights again as he became the oldest winner of a men's golf major, landing the US PGA Championship title in May. At the age of 50, Mickelson caused a huge upset at Kiawah Island, scooping his sixth career major when he held off Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen on the final day. It was his only top-10 finish of the year on the PGA Tour.

Federer bagelled, Djokovic denied Golden Slam

Strange things happened in men's tennis in 2021, not least the sight of Roger Federer suffering a 6-0 'bagel' at the end of a straight-sets Wimbledon quarter-final defeat. That happened against Hubert Hurkacz in July, and it was the last match Federer played in the year. He wants to play again, and the 40-year-old believes he can, but knee surgery will keep him out of action until mid-2022 at the earliest, by his own reckoning, and that Centre Court defeat to Hurkacz could turn out to be how his eight-title Wimbledon career ends. Novak Djokovic joined Federer and Nadal on a joint-record 20 grand slam titles by cleaning up at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon, and he has now spent a record 353 weeks at number one, passing Federer this year. But Djokovic could not make it a Golden Slam, losing to eventual champion Alexander Zverev in the Olympic Games semi-finals, and a Grand Slam was just beyond him too, Daniil Medvedev winning his first major when he swept the Serbian in straight sets in the US Open final.

Another year, more records for Brady

At the age of 43, Tom Brady was MVP in the Super Bowl as he led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to their 31-9 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in February. He now has seven Super Bowl wins behind him, another outright record, and has been MVP in the game on an unmatched five occasions. Brady, having turned 44 in August, is in the hunt for another Super Bowl ring and perhaps outright NFL MVP honours this season, although Aaron Rodgers will likely deny him the latter accolade. Still, the records keep coming for Brady. He has moved in front of Drew Brees to have the most pass completions in league history (7,200 and counting), become the first ever 15-time Pro Bowler, and in December became the first quarterback to throw 700 career touchdowns.

England's Ashes surrender calls for Root and branch review

Joe Root became the first England captain – or player, indeed – to suffer nine defeats in Tests starting in a single calendar year, in a strange 12 months for the Yorkshireman. His form with the bat has been up there with the best of his career, the 31-year-old scoring 1,708 Test runs to go third on the all-time single-year list, with only Mohammad Yousuf and Viv Richards ahead of him. Even in the Tests that England have lost, Root has made a number of handy contributions with the bat, scoring 648 runs at an average of 38.11. Overall he has scored 26 per cent of England's Test runs across the year, the highest proportion of any player for their respective team in 2021. Yet the Ashes were lost by lunch on day three of the third Test, an outrageously dismal result. Root top-scored in England's two innings in Melbourne, typically, but he cannot get a tune out of many of his team-mates, so ends the year with his future as skipper in doubt.

Curry still hot as NBA records fall

In January, LaMelo Ball became the youngest player to post a triple-double in the NBA, as the 19-year-old Charlotte Hornets prospect grabbed 22 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists in a win over the Atlanta Hawks. Come December, the Memphis Grizzlies set two records in the same game, scoring a franchise-high number of points and winning by the biggest margin in NBA history, as they handed out a 152-79 thrashing to the Oklahoma City Thunder. December was also the month when Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors set a new three-pointer record, becoming the first man to make 3,000 threes in a career after going past Ray Allen's previous NBA record of 2,973.

World number one Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from the ATP Cup in Sydney amid ongoing uncertainty over his title defence at next month's Australian Open.

Djokovic has not yet confirmed his place at January's Grand Slam due to the COVID-19 mandate in Victoria.

The 34-year-old's father, Srdjan, has previously said that the nine-time Australian Open champion is unlikely to feature in Melbourne unless vaccination rules are relaxed.

World number 33 Dusan Lajovic will now lead the Serbia team at the ATP Cup.

Meanwhile, Austria have been replaced by France at the event following the withdrawals of Dominic Thiem and Dennis Novak. The French will be led by world number 35 Ugo Humbert, alongside Arthur Rinderknech, Edouard Roger-Vasselin and Fabrice Martin.

Russia's Andrey Rublev, Aslan Karatsev and Evgeny Donskoy have withdrawn, with Evgeny Karlovskiy joining the team, while Team USA's Austin Krajicek has also pulled out.

The ATP Cup will begin on New Year's Day at both Ken Rosewall Arena and Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney Olympic Park.

Dominic Thiem has withdrawn from next month's Australian Open.

Thiem has not played on the ATP Tour since suffering a wrist injury at the Mallorca Championships in June.

The 2020 US Open champion was due to feature in the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi this month, but withdrew after suffering a setback.

Thiem on Tuesday revealed his wrist is in "optimal condition", but the Austrian will miss the first grand slam of the year at Melbourne Park and will instead make his comeback at the Cordoba Open next month.

The Austrian tweeted: "As you all know, I came back home to Austria to recover after hard practice sessions I had in Dubai and the slight setback in my preparation. I am now feeling well again, my wrist is in optimal condition and I am practicing normally with a very good intensity.

"After my short holidays, my team and I have assessed all matters and we have decided to make some changes to my initial tournament schedule.

"I will start the season in South America at the Cordoba Open in Argentina, end of January, and therefore I will not play this year at the Australian Open in Melbourne, a city that I love and where I have great memories of unforgettable matches in front of amazing crowds. I will miss the Australian fans but I will be back in 2023.

"We believe this is the right decision in order to have a good return to competition. For the moment I will remain in Austria for a few more days and then head to practice outdoors and get ready for my first event of the season."

The 28-year-old was a runner-up in the 2020 Australian Open before going on to claim his first major title at Flushing Meadows.

Alexander Zverev believes he will form a big three with Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev in 2022 but hopes he will not get the chance to become world number one at the Australian Open.

The German is knocking on the door near the top of the rankings after a fine year that saw him win six titles, including the season-ending ATP Finals in Turin and an Olympic gold medal in Tokyo.

Zverev, currently ranked third, could go top of the rankings if he wins the Australian Open, which starts next month, but that is only possible if current world number one Djokovic does not play.

And Zverev is hopeful the Serbian will take part despite continued uncertainty over his participation in the tournament amid intense debate over his COVID-19 vaccine stance.

Djokovic, a nine-time Australian Open winner, is yet to disclose his vaccination status.

Tournament chief Craig Tiley said this week he is still hoping to see the tour's top player participate if he meets the required conditions, which are either being vaccinated or having a medical exemption.

"The situation with Novak and Australia is still a big question mark," Zverev said in a podcast appearance with Eurosport Germany. 

"Of course, I hope that he will be allowed to play, that is very clear.

"There are thousands of mathematical calculations, if he doesn't play Australia and I win the Australian Open, then I'm number one in the world and so on and so forth.

"At the end of the day, now is not the time to think about [being world number one]. Now is the time to prepare as best as you can so you're physically able to play for it."

As well as his silverware, Zverev made the last four of the French Open and US Open, and the 24-year-old believes his experience has begun to come to the fore.

Zverev had a 59-15 record this season and recorded at least one victory against every other player inside the top 10 of the ATP year-end rankings.

"I've become much calmer and I'm also getting older," he added.

"I'm not 18 or 19 anymore. I understand maybe a bit more things about life and understand that you just have to keep calm in important situations. That has had its effect on me this year.

"I think next year could be very similar to the last six months from this year.

"Before, there used to be always talk about Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic – now the big titles were the Olympics, US Open, Turin and Wimbledon, and they were all won by Medvedev, Djokovic and me. 

"I don't expect it to be any different next year."

Alexander Zverev believes he will form a big three with Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev in 2022 but hopes he will not get the chance to become world number one at the Australian Open.

The German is knocking on the door near the top of the rankings after a fine year that saw him win six titles, including the season-ending ATP Finals in Turin and an Olympic gold medal in Tokyo.

Zverev, currently ranked third, could go top of the rankings if he wins the Australian Open, which starts next month, but that is only possible if current world number one Djokovic does not play.

And Zverev is hopeful the Serbian will take part despite continued uncertainty over his participation in the tournament amid intense debate over his COVID-19 vaccine stance.

Djokovic, a nine-time Australian Open winner, is yet to disclose his vaccination status.

Tournament chief Craig Tiley said this week he is still hoping to see the tour's top player participate if he meets the required conditions, which are either being vaccinated or having a medical exemption.

"The situation with Novak and Australia is still a big question mark," Zverev said in a podcast appearance with Eurosport Germany. 

"Of course, I hope that he will be allowed to play, that is very clear.

"There are thousands of mathematical calculations, if he doesn't play Australia and I win the Australian Open, then I'm number one in the world and so on and so forth.

"At the end of the day, now is not the time to think about [being world number one]. Now is the time to prepare as best as you can so you're physically able to play for it."

As well as his silverware, Zverev made the last four of the French Open and US Open, and the 24-year-old believes his experience has begun to come to the fore.

Zverev had a 59-15 record this season and recorded at least one victory against every other player inside the top 10 of the ATP year-end rankings.

"I've become much calmer and I'm also getting older," he added.

"I'm not 18 or 19 anymore. I understand maybe a bit more things about life and understand that you just have to keep calm in important situations. That has had its effect on me this year.

"I think next year could be very similar to the last six months from this year.

"Before, there used to be always talk about Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic – now the big titles were the Olympics, US Open, Turin and Wimbledon, and they were all won by Medvedev, Djokovic and me. 

"I don't expect it to be any different next year."

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