'Probably not': Huge 'blackmail' twist in Novak Djokovic Aus Open saga

Pictured right, Novak Djokovic's father Srdjan chats with the tennis star during a match.
Novak Djokovic's father Srdjan (right) has made the bombshell prediction that his son won't play the Australian Open. Pic: Getty

The father of 20-time grand slam champion Novak Djokovic says he doesn't expect his son to play in the Australian Open after claiming the Serb has been the vicim of "blackmail" from tennis officials.

Djokovic's participation in the Melbourne Park grand slam has been the subject of intense debate across the tennis world, with Australian Open officials declaring unvaccinated players won't be able to participate and the World No.1 refusing to reveal his vaccination status.

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The 34-year-old Djokovic, who would be bidding to overtake rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal with a record-breaking 21st grand slam title in Melbourne, has refused to say whether or not he has been vaccinated against coronavirus.

Djokovic has consistently stated that his status is a private matter and it is his choice whether or not to be vaccinated.

But Australian Open tournament chief Craig Tiley has said that all players must be double-vaxxed in order to take part.

Speaking on Serbian television, Djokovic's father Srdjan likened the restrictions to "blackmail" and made the bombshell call that his son "probably won't" play in the first grand slam tournament of the new year.

"Of course he would want to go with all his heart," Djokovic's father Srdjan told Serbian channel Prda TV.

"Because he is a sportsman and there are a lot of our people, the (Serbian) diaspora, there who would be delighted to see Novak.

"But I really don't know if that will happen. Probably not under these conditions, with this blackmail and when it's done that way."

Srdjan Djokovic also defended his son's "exclusive and personal right" to be vaccinated or not, and claimed that even he did not know if Novak had received the jab.

Tiley last week revealed that Djokovic "has said that he views this as a private matter for himself".

"We would love to see Novak here. He knows that he'll have to be vaccinated to play here," he added.

Djokovic contracted Covid-19 during the ill-fated Adria Tour event he organised in the Balkans in June 2020, but said he did not suffer from any symptoms.

Tiley last week said he expected Djokovic to take part in the first grand slam of the new year, saying he couldn't imagine the Serb passing up the chance to move ahead of Federer and Nadal on the all-time majors list by winning a 10th Australian Open crown.

Seen on the right, Australian Open boss Craig Tiley and Novak Djokovic arm-in-arm at Melbourne Park.
Australian Open boss Craig Tiley is confident Novak Djokovic won't miss out on the chance to win a 10th crown at Melbourne Park in 2022. Pic: Getty

Aus Open boss confident Novak Djokovic will play

"He has not shared his status with anyone," Tiley told sports radio station SEN.

"He believes that what you say around your medical position is private and he believes people should have the right to choose."

But Tiley added: "Novak has won nine Australian Opens and I'm sure he wants to get to 10.

"He's on 20 Grand Slam titles as is Rafa Nadal, who is coming, and Roger Federer, so one of them is going to surpass the other.

"I don't think Novak will want to leave that feat to someone else.

"One thing is for sure, if he is playing here in January, then he is vaccinated."

Djokovic said at the weekend that "we'll have to wait and see" when asked whether he will be at Melbourne Park to defend his title.

Currently around 85 percent of players have got the jab and Tiley said he expected that to reach between 95 and 100 percent by January.

"We take a lot of credit for that because we put a vaccination requirement on it (coming to Australia)," he said.

with agencies

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