'He wants to': Australian Open boss' huge call on Novak Djokovic

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Pictured here, Australian Open boss Craig Tiley and champion Novak Djokovic pose together for photos.
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

Australian Open boss Craig Tiley says he expects Novak Djokovic to take part in the first grand slam of the new year, claiming the World No.1 will not want to risk giving up the prospect of a record-breaking 21st men's major title.

Djokovic's participation in the Australian Open has been a burning topic of debate in the tennis world, with the Serb refusing to divulge his vaccination status.

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Tiley, along with Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and the state's health officials, have made it clear that unvaccinated players will not be able to participate in the grand slam at Melbourne Park unless they are double-vaxxed.

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

However, Tiley says he finds it very difficult to believe the nine-time Australian Open champion - currently tied with great rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 grand slam singles titles - won't return to Melbourne Park in 2022 to try and break the record.

"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.

Seen here, Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley speaks to reporters at a press conference.
Australian Open boss Craig Tiley expects the vast majority of players to be double vaccinated before the grand slam tournament rolls around. Pic: Getty

Australia set for jam-packed tennis schedule

Tiley's comments follow the release of the season-opening tennis schedule in Australia, with the return of the ATP Cup to Sydney headlining a bumper month of tennis.

The ATP Cup will return to Sydney as the centrepiece of a blockbuster build-up to the Australian Open in January.

A record 17 tournaments will be held before the Open at Melbourne Park from January 17-30.

This year's ATP Cup, as well as all other AO lead-up events, was held at Melbourne Park because of the global pandemic.

But with the country opening up, Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne and even regional Victoria will enjoy a slice of the action this summer.

The bumper program begins on New Year's Day with the 16-team ATP Cup from January 1-9, while Australia's world No.1 Ash Barty is expected to open her summer at the women's Adelaide International from January 2-9.

A new, one-off Sydney Tennis Classic, a combined men's and women's event featuring a WTA 500 and ATP 250, will take place in Sydney from January 9-15.

That same week, the world's best men's and women's players will return to Adelaide for a second event in the South Australia capital.

Bendigo and Traralgon will also host ATP Challenger and ITF women's tournaments from January 2-9.

There will also be two WTA 250 tournaments and one ATP 250 at Melbourne Park from January 3-9 before Australian Open qualifying starts the following day.

with agencies

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