Fresh vaccination exemption twist in Novak Djokovic saga

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Pictured here, Novak Djokovic applauds the crowd after a Davis Cup match for Serbia.
Tennis Australia has responded to reports Novak Djokovic could apply for a medical exemption to compete at the Australian Open. Pic: Getty

Tennis Australia has repeated its claims that all players will have to be double vaccinated or provide a "valid medical exemption" if they're to compete in next year's Australian Open.

It comes amid reports that World No.1 Novak Djokovic will seek to gain a medical exemption so he can enter Melbourne Park, with the Serb set to be part of the ATP Cup in Sydney before the grand slam.

AMAZING: Tennis world erupts over Barty, Raducanu news

'SORRY TO HEAR': Tennis fans gutted over Bianca Andreescu news

'THIS IS WEAK': ATP under fire over 'gutless' stance on China

Djokovic was on Tuesday named in the Serbia team for Sydney's ATP Cup in January, fuelling speculation that he would play the Australian Open, despite months of uncertainty surrounding his involvement in the first grand slam of the new year.

The 34-year-old was listed as part of the five-man Serbia team when the draw was made in Sydney for an event that will precede the opening grand slam of 2022.

"The playing group enjoy representing their countries and to see 18 of the world's top 20 players commit to the event is testament to that," said tournament director Tom Larner.

Curiously, an ATP statement accompanying the draw noted that top seed Serbia was "headlined by world number Novak Djokovic", in a major indication that he's set to travel to Australia.

Djokovic hadn't publicly committed to defending his Australian Open title at Melbourne Park or revealed his vaccination status, with a mandate that he be double-jabbed to play.

The 20-time grand slam champion's father Srdjan also told Serbia's Prva television that his son "probably wouldn't" play at the Australian Open after likening the vaccine mandate to "blackmail".

While the ATP Cup doesn't have the same entry criteria, his inclusion for the Open warm-up tournament means he now appears likely to chase a 10th crown.

Djokovic reportedly has grounds to apply for an exemption and would have the support of a Tennis Australia desperate to see the World No.1 return for a shot at history in 2022.

Responding to reports Djokovic could seek a medical exemption to play at the Australian Open, Tennis Australia reiterated its stance on Wednesday.

"We can confirm that everyone entering Australia for the summer of tennis will need to meet the strict requirements set by health authorities across the country," a TA spokesperson said.

"These include certified proof of vaccination, or a valid medical exemption approved by Australian medical officials.

"What has also been made clear by health officials is that international arrivals who don't meet these requirements will need to quarantine for 14 days."

Pictured here, Novak Djokovic holds the 2021 Australian Open trophy aloft.
Novak Djokovic has been named in Serbia's team to compete at the 2022 ATP Cup in Sydney. Pic: Getty

Novak Djokovic to headline Serbia at the ATP Cup

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has repeatedly said his government would not be applying for medical exemptions, and any such move would need to be signed off by a panel of independent medical experts.

To play without being vaccinated in Sydney, the NSW government would have to apply for an exemption for Djokovic and the 34-year-old would have to undergo 14 days quarantine upon arrival.

Australia has been included in pool B alongside defending champions Russia, and strong squads from Italy and Austria.

The Australians will be led by Alex de Minaur, along with James Duckworth, Max Purcell, John Peers and Luke Saville.

The Russians will be spearheaded by world No.2 Daniil Medvedev as well as Andrey Rublev, Aslan Karatsev, Roman Safiullin and Evgeny Donskoy.

Serbia will start favourites in Group A, which will also feature Norway, Chile and Spain, although world No.6 Rafael Nadal hasn't been included in the latter's line-up.

A winner of 20 grand slam titles alongside Djokovic and Roger Federer, Nadal is still expected to contest the Australian Open, starting on January 17.

The nine-day event will be played in Sydney at Ken Rosewall Arena and Qudos Bank Arena.

with AAP

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting