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By Richard Pagliaro | Saturday, November 20, 2021

 
Djokovic

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley confirmed all players must be fully vaccinated to play the 2022 Melbourne major, which starts on January 17th.

Photo credit: Paul Crock/Getty

Novak Djokovic must be fully vaccinated to defend his Australian Open championship.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley confirmed all players must be fully vaccinated to play the 2022 Melbourne major, which starts on January 17th.

"It's been made very clear. When the premier announced several weeks ago that in order to participate in the Australian Open, to come into Victoria, you'll need to be fully vaccinated," Tiley told Australia's Today Show. "Immediately, we communicated that to the playing group. It is the one direction that you take that you can ensure everyone's safety."

World No. 1 Djokovic, who has declined to disclose if he's vaccinated, 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 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."

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews shut down any prospect of unvaccinated players entering Melbourne announcing he would not allow any travel exemptions for unvaccinated players. 

"If you want a visa to come to Australia then you must be double vaxxed," Andrews said.

The 2022 Australian Open will feature full capacity crowds with vaccinations required for fans and staff. 



Djokovic's decision will have historic repurcussions as he shares the men's Grand Slam record with rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

The 40-year-old Federer announced he is out of Melbourne continuing recovery from his fourth knee surgery. Nadal, who defeated Federer for his lone AO crown in 2009, says he plans to play the Australian Open as he continues recovery from a foot injury.

If Djokovic opts out, then Nadal would be the long Big 3 champion in the field with a shot of capturing a record 21st Grand Slam championship and sole possession of the men's major mark.

Tiley is optimistic Djokovic will play Melbourne given his Australian Open dominance and the massive major history on the line.

"We're expecting Novak to come," Tiley said. "Obviously, there's a lot speculation around vaccination; the good news is that most of the tennis players, both the men and the women's side, are fully vaccinated.

"Novak, as he previously said, it's a private issue for him. He's had great success here in Melbourne, and he's always said that the Australian Open is the event that puts the wind in his sails.

"So I hope we get to see Novak."

A commanding Djokovic dissected Daniil Medvedev, 7-5, 6-2, 6-2, to capture his record-extending ninth Australian Open championship in phenomenal fashion last February. 

World No. 2 Medvedev has also declined to disclose if he's vaccinated saying he does not publicly discuss health-related issues. However, Medvedev has also said he plans to play the 2022 Australian Open, which suggests he is either already vaccinated or planning to take the jab.

Tiley's confirmation of no jab, no entry into the AO puts the ball back in Djokovic's court.


 

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