Rival's massive statement amid Novak Djokovic Australian Open saga

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·Sports Editor
·3-min read
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Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem, pictured here after the Australian Open final in 2020.
Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem look on after the Australian Open final in 2020. (Photo by Jason Heidrich/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Dominic Thiem has declared he is fully fit and vaccinated and vowed to return with a bang at the Australian Open in January.

Thiem was sitting at World No.5 in the rankings when he injured his wrist in June and hasn't played since.

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The Austrian star said on Tuesday he hopes to return from injury at an invitational tournament in Abu Dhabi in December as he begins to tune up for Melbourne.

"I am very happy to announce that my recovery is going well," the 28-year-old wrote on social media.

"A scan I did today showed that my wrist injury has improved significantly."

The 2020 US Open champion said he hoped to return to the full ATP Tour for the season-opening grand slam in Australia next year.

He reached the final in Melbourne in 2020, losing to Novak Djokovic in a five-setter.

"Needless to say that the vaccine is needed to play both events, and in my case I have already been vaccinated," Thiem said.

"I saw recently some news about this and I had made it very clear that I would get vaccinated."

Debate has erupted in tennis over players being vaccinated, especially as the Australian Open in Melbourne could yet ban the unvaccinated from competing.

Thiem made headlines earlier this month when he said he wasn't yet vaccinated and his preference was to wait for a jab from Novavax - a jab uses an 'inactivated' protein-based formula - unless it would not be available in time for Melbourne.

Dominic Thiem, pictured here in action at the 2021 Australian Open.
Dominic Thiem in action at the 2021 Australian Open. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Benoit Paire's message to unvaccinated players

Meanwhile, World No.47 Benoit Paire says he doesn't care that unvaccinated players are unlikely to be able to play in Melbourne, and thinks it could work in his favour.

Tennis Australia are still negotiating the rules that will govern player access to Australia with government officials, but the prospects look bleak for any players unvaccinated against Covid-19.

Although the federal government have said they can enter the country if they have an exemption and undergo 14 days of quarantine, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews last week ruled out applying for exemptions for anyone without a double dose.

Paire, who endured 14 days of hard quarantine ahead of the 2021 edition of the Australian Open, said he was unconcerned.

"There is no quarantine anymore in Melbourne if you're vaccinated. Those that are not vaccinated, I don't care about them," he told reporters after losing in the first round of the Paris Masters.

"If they don't play, all the better for me.

"I don't care about the other players. I'm motivated to have a great season next year. 

"If there are some people who are reluctant to get vaccinated, then they should stay in Europe.

"It's not my problem. You have to be vaccinated to go to Australia. I am vaccinated and I'm looking forward to playing there."

World No.2 Daniil Medvedev echoed Djokovic's sentiments this week when he refused to reveal his own vaccination status.

But there was better news for Australian Open organisers on Monday when Rafael Nadal, who has publicly backed vaccination, said he was hoping to play at Melbourne Park.

Paire said there had been talk during the US Open earlier this year of an Australian Open boycott if vaccinations were mandated, but he suspected most players would want to be at the season-opening grand slam.

with AAP

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