Telling footage of Novak Djokovic emerges amid Australian Open saga

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Novak Djokovic, pictured here preparing in Spain on the same surface used at the Australian Open.
Novak Djokovic is preparing in Spain on the same surface used at the Australian Open. Image: Soho Tennis Academy

Novak Djokovic is preparing as if he's going to be playing the Australian Open.

The World No.1's participation at the first grand slam of the year still remains a mystery due to his refusal to reveal his vaccination status.

It is widely believed that Djokovic is awaiting word on a medical exemption that would allow him to play at the Australian Open if he is unvaccinated.

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And while he awaits a decision, it looks as though he is doing everything he can to be ready for the conditions at Melbourne Park.

Last week Djokovic withdrew from the ATP Cup in Sydney, increasing speculation over his Australian Open participation.

But footage emerged on Saturday of Djokovic practising on the same surface used in Melbourne and hitting with official Australian Open tennis balls.

The video was posted by the Soto Tennis Academy in Marbella, Spain, where Djokovic appears to be ramping up his preparations for the Australian Open.

Djokovic is seemingly trying to replicate the conditions he will face in Melbourne if he does end up playing the Australian Open.

But whether or not he will be able to make the trip Down Under still remains a mystery.

All spectators, staff and players at the Australian Open must be double-vaccinated, or have a valid medical exemption.

Conflicting reports have emerged in Serbia about whether or not Djokovic's request for an exemption has been successful.

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

Dusan Lajovic, who replaced Djokovic for Team Serbia at the ATP Cup, said he and his teammates were unsure of the World No.1's participation in Melbourne.

“He kept in touch with all of us and it was a last-minute decision, the Australian Open is still uncertain, I don’t know the information,” Lajovic said on Thursday.

“I think that will come in the next couple of days or whenever is the deadline. We don’t know right now, but hopefully he’ll be there and be able to play the grand slam.”

Australian Open boss hopeful of Novak Djokovic playing

Australian Open boss Craig Tiley recently admitted that a small number of players and staff would be granted medical exemptions to enter Melbourne Park unvaccinated.

"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."

Novak Djokovic, pictured here in action at the Davis Cup in December.
Novak Djokovic in action at the Davis Cup in December. (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images)

Tiley said Djokovic had the right to keep his vaccination status a secret, and any medical exemptions that are granted will also remain private.

"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."

The process for 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.

with AAP

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