'No chance': Bombshell call in Novak Djokovic Australian Open saga

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·Sports Editor
·3-min read
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  • Novak Djokovic
    Novak Djokovic
    Serbian tennis player
  • Craig Tiley
    South African tennis player
Novak Djokovic, pictured here after winning the 2021 Australian Open in February.
Novak Djokovic won the 2021 Australian Open in February. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

A former World No.1 has made the bombshell call that Novak Djokovic is "no chance" to play the Australian Open in January.

Reports emerged last week that Djokovic will not travel to Sydney for the season-opening ATP Cup starting on January 1, throwing his participation at the Australian Open into further doubt.

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Djokovic had previously been named in Serbia's team for the ATP Cup, although the 34-year-old has yet to commit to the Australian Open following the Covid-19 vaccination mandate agreed by Tennis Australia and the Victorian Department of Health.

The 20-time grand slam champion has declined to disclose whether or not he is vaccinated, citing privacy concerns.

But according to former doubles World No.1 Emilio Sanchez, there is "not one chance" that Djokovic will play the Australian Open.

"For everyone with the hope that he goes to AO. He will withdraw also from AO," Spain's former Davis Cup captain tweeted.

"For me there is not one chance that @DjokerNole goes."

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Last week, Australian Open boss Craig Tiley said he is still uncertain on whether Djokovic will be playing at the Melbourne Park major, but reaffirmed that the World No.1 wants to be here.

Tiley and Victorian government officials - including premier Daniel Andrews - have repeatedly stated that all players and staff at the Australian Open need to be vaccinated or have a medical exemption granted by an independent panel of experts.

Those requirements have prevented Djokovic from confirming whether he will bid for a men's record 21st grand slam title and a 10th Australian Open crown.

Emilio Sanchez, pictured here with Fernando Verdasco during a Davis Cup clash in 2008.
Emilio Sanchez with Fernando Verdasco during a Davis Cup clash in 2008. (Photo by DANIEL GARCIA/AFP via Getty Images)

"Everyone who is coming in is vaccinated and there will be a small percentage - a very small percentage - that will have a medical exemption," Tiley said.

"So if any player, fan (or) workforce is on site here, you're either vaccinated or you have a medical exemption that's approved and you're on the Australian Immunisation Register.

"That provides us with safety and an extra level of comfort on site."

Tiley said he spoke with Djokovic two weeks ago but doesn't know if the Serb had requested a medical exemption.

And because of the Covid protocols put in place, no one will ever know unless the nine-time champion reveals so himself.

Daniel Andrews and Craig Tiley, pictured here speaking to the media in Melbourne.
Daniel Andrews and Craig Tiley have both stated that everyone at the Australian Open will need to be vaccinated. Image: Getty

The process around medical exemptions will include redacting personal information to ensure privacy for all applicants, meaning the names of any players who seek exemptions will never be publicly disclosed.

If an exemption is deemed valid in line with the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) guidelines, the medical exemption will be submitted to the Australian Immunisation Register.

No panellists will ever know the identity of any player seeking an exemption.

"If Novak shows up at the Australian Open, he'll either be vaccinated or he'll have a medical exemption," Tiley said.

"(It's) his choice on his medical condition, it's his choice to keep personal and private like all of us would do with any condition we may or may not have.

"We are not going to force him or ask him to disclose that."

with AAP

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