'He knows': Aus Open boss makes telling Novak Djokovic confession

Seen here, Novak Djokovic gives a fist pump during a match at the ATP Finals in Turin.
The deadline for Novak Djokovic to make a decision on the Australian Open is drawing nearer. Pic: Getty

The deadline for Novak Djokovic to confirm his Australian Open participation is fast approaching, and the World No.1 fully understands the vaccination requirements to be eligible to play.

That's according to Tennis Australia CEO and tournament director Craig Tiley, who says he's been in discussions with Djokovic and his team about the Melbourne Park grand slam.

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Djokovic will need to show his vaccination hand within a matter of weeks amid news that all of the leading women, including titleholder Naomi Osaka, have committed to the January tournament.

Speaking at the Australian Open launch on Saturday, Tiley said there had been "no pushback" from international players about being double vaccinated to play.

He said vaccination rates among players had jumped from 50 per cent to 80 per cent in the last six weeks.

The status of Djokovic remains unclear though and Tiley said the World No.1 understood he needed to be double vaccinated to play.

"We have been speaking to Novak and his team and they understand clearly that in order to come and play in the Australian Open they need to be fully vaccinated," Tiley said.

"They know that it's a condition for everyone, not just the players, but the fans and all the staff and he had indicated that it's a private decision for him and at the right time he will tell us.

"I know that he wants to play, he's clearly indicated that and he knows the conditions that he would have to undergo in order to be eligible to play."

Tiley said international players were currently going through the travel visa process with the Federal government while entry for the Open closes in December.

"Entry in here will be determined by around early to the middle of December on the entry deadline," Tiley said.

"So you'll know when a player's entered an event ... so in the next couple of weeks you will have really good indication of where everyone's at because at that point there's an official list of who's going to be here."

Pictured here, Novak Djokovic speaking with Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley at the 2021 Australian Open.
Reigning Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic speaks with CEO of Tennis Australia Craig Tiley at the 2021 grand slam. Pic: Getty (Cameron Spencer via Getty Images)

Tiley said he had spoken this week with seven-time champion Serena Williams, who confirmed she will play.

Crowds will return to full capacity for the 2022 edition after fans this year were banned for five days due to a snap lockdown and limited through the event.

The men's draw will already be missing arguably its biggest drawcard after Roger Federer revealed earlier in the week that his return from a third bout of knee surgery was still several months away.

If Djokovic were to pull out as well it would represent a major blow to Australian Open organisers and tennis fans.

Djokovic said last month he was unsure if he would defend his title at Melbourne Park with "things being as they are".

It's unclear what effect - if any - Tiley's latest comments may have on the Serb's prospects of playing at Melbourne Park in 2022.

Djokovic this week doubled down on his assertion that getting vaccinated and publicly revealing his status was a "freedom of choice".

Novak Djokovic is pictured here reacting after a match in 2021.
Novak Djokovic (pictured) is yet to reveal his Covid-19 vaccination status. (Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images)

The World No.1 has been at the centre of the Australian Open vaccine controversy for weeks, considering his immunisation status is unknown.

The nine-time Australian Open champion even found an unlikely ally in Nick Kyrgios, who defended Djokovic's right to stand by his vaccination beliefs.

"That was unexpected knowing what was coming from him towards me in the last couple of years," Djokovic said.

"But this time I must agree with him that the freedom of choice is essential for everyone, whether it's me or somebody else."

"Doesn't really matter whether it's vaccination or anything else in life. You should have the freedom to choose, to decide what you want to do. In this particular case, what you want to put in your body."

with AAP

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