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Australian Open boss Craig Tiley admits there is still "quite a bit to play out" in the Novak Djokovic saga, adding that his status for the year's first grand slam should be clearer in "the coming days".
Djokovic's participation at Melbourne Park remains mystery due to his refusal to reveal his vaccination status.
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The 20-time grand slam champion's withdrawal from this week's ATP Cup in Sydney was thought to be an indicator that he would also be missing from the Australian Open, starting in Melbourne on January 17.
All participants at the opening grand slam of the year need to be vaccinated or have a medical exemption, as per the state government rules of Victoria.
There is speculation that Djokovic has applied for one, which would be assessed by an independent panel of experts and remain confidential.
While the World No.1 awaits a decision, it looks as though he is doing everything he can to be ready for the conditions at Melbourne Park.
Footage emerged on Saturday of Djokovic practising on the same surface used in Melbourne and hitting with official Australian Open tennis balls.
— SotoTennis Academy (@SotoTennis) December 31, 2021
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.
However, Tiley says the clock is ticking for Djokovic with the last of the field of players set to touch down in Australia by the end of this week.
Time running out for Novak Djokovic
"We've still got a few charter flights coming in until the end of this week and then all the players will be here," Tiley told the Nine Network.
"As far as the status relates to Novak, I think we'll have a much clearer picture in the coming days otherwise it's getting pretty late to show up and play the Australian Open."
"There's quite a bit to play out and I think it will play out in the coming days," he added.
Government officials in Victoria, which hosts the Australian Open, have been adamant for months that only vaccinated players can participate in the tournament.
"They're the rules. Medical exemptions are just that - it's not a loophole for privileged tennis players," the state's Deputy Premier James Merlino said in December.
Djokovic's arch-rival Rafael Nadal, who is also gunning for record 21st grand slam title, is already preparing in Melbourne after recovering from Covid-19.
Fellow 20-time grand slam winner Roger Federer is sidelined by injury, with a host of other top stars also set to miss out on the first slam of 2022.
Federer is still recovering from a third knee surgery, Serena Williams hasn't fully recovered from a leg injury suffered at Wimbledon, while Bianca Andreescu, Karolina Pliskova, Jennifer Brady, Dominic Thiem and Milos Raonic will also be missing.
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