'Wait and see': Novak Djokovic addresses glaring vaccine question

Pictured here, Novak Djokovic is in high spirits after winning the 2021 Australian Open title.
Novak Djokovic has spoken about the possibility of Covid-19 vaccines becoming compulsory on the ATP Tour. Pic: Getty

The dust had barely settled on Novak Djokovic's record-extending ninth Australian Open title, before debate quickly turned to Covid-19 vaccinations.

Djokovic dispatched Daniil Medvedev in straights sets on Rod Laver Arena on Sunday night to claim the 18th major trophy of his career - two behind the men's record jointly held by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

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However, the achievement was largely overshadowed by shocking crowd scenes during the trophy presentation that earned widespread condemnation around the world.

Fans inside the stadium were heard loudly booing Tennis Australia chair Jayne Hrdlicka when she mentioned the Covid-19 vaccines that were being rolled out around the world, and the hope it offered millions of people.

The negative reaction from some fans about the mention of vaccines sparked outrage on social media, and it was a topic of discussion for Djokovic during his post-match interviews.

Pictured here, Tennis Australia chair Jayne Hrdlicka addresses the crowd at Rod Laver Arena.
Tennis Australia chair Jayne Hrdlicka was booed by the crowd after the Australian Open final. Image: Getty

The Serbian superstar has in the past been known for his opposition to vaccines, and was slammed for organising a tennis event at the height of the pandemic that resulted in himself and several other players testing positive for the Covid-19.

The ATP Tour is weighing up whether to make vaccinations compulsory for male players if they wish to compete in sanctioned events.

Pressed on whether he would be willing to get vaccinated, Djokovic gave a cagey response.

“Let’s see what happens. There’s been a lot of discussion about that but nothing is yet concretely set about that or there aren’t any regulations or rules in place from ATP or from slams,” Djokovic said.

“So I’m just going to wait and see. Right now it’s all a debate and it’s all in the air, so I don’t want to make any comment about something that is not yet complete.”

Djokovic eyeing Margaret Court record

The 33-year-old says a more pressing focus of his is to try and break not only Federer and Nadal's grand slam records, but also that of the most successful women's player of all time, Margaret Court.

Court sits at the top of the pile in world tennis with an astonishing record of 24 career grand slam titles, one more than Serena Williams.

Speaking after his latest triumph at Melbourne Park, Djokovic said his sights are set on all of their records.

The world number one's bold statement followed Sunday's final, when he ended a turbulent tournament marked by a muscle injury and media attacks by humbling an in-form Medvedev 7-5 6-2 6-2.

"Getting closer to maybe Roger's, Rafa's record, Serena, Margaret," said Djokovic, when asked about his goals and schedule for this year.

"Everyone has their own journey and their own way of making history. They've made history already. They made a tremendous mark in our sport.

Pictured here, Margaret Court alongside a photo of Novak Djokovic.
Novak Djokovic has Margaret Court's all-time record of grand slam titles in his sights. Pic: Getty

"I think about winning more slams and breaking records, of course. And most of my attention and my energy from this day forward, until I retire from tennis, is going to be directed in majors, trying to win more major trophies."

Djokovic's coach Goran Ivanisevic said the Big Three were producing "better and better tennis" and also noted that Court's record was on the horizon.

"I don't know where is the end. Maybe they're going to overtake Margaret Court and Serena, maybe not," he said.

"But it's amazing what they (are) doing on the court. It's amazing how they perform in the big matches."

Djokovic warned that he and the other members of the Big Three in men's tennis weren't ready to pass their torch over to the younger brigade just yet.

"Roger, Rafa, myself are still there for a reason," he said. "We don't want to hand it to them and we don't want to allow them to win slams.

"I think that's something that is very clear. Whether you communicate that message or not, we are definitely sending that vibe out there."

with agencies

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