A respected tennis writer has weighed in on the ongoing debate around Novak Djokovic, insisting it would be very hard for the World No.1 to continue in the sport if he's not vaccinated.
The vaccination status of Djokovic is one of the biggest mysteries in world tennis, with the 20-time major winner adamant that his privacy on the matter should be respected.
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Over the weekend, Djokovic responded to Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley's assertion that all players will need to be fully vaccinated in order to play the Australian Open.
The Victorian state government has previously said only vaccinated people will be allowed into Melbourne Park for the Australian Open, which runs from January 17-30.
"Everyone on site, the fans, all the staff, the players, will need to be vaccinated," Tiley said at the tournament's launch.
"There's been a lot of speculation about Novak's position, he's said it's a private matter.
"We would love to see Novak here, but he knows he needs to be vaccinated in order to play.
"He's always said that the Australian Open is the event that puts the wind in his sails."
Djokovic is the defending and nine-time champion at the Australian Open, but has refused to publicly reveal his vaccination status.
"We'll see. We'll have to wait and see," Djokovic said of the Australian Open after losing to eventual champion Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals of the ATP Finals in Turin.
"I haven't been talking to them, to be honest," Djokovic said of Australian Open officials.
"I was just waiting to hear what the news is going to be and now that I know we'll just have to wait and see."
Djokovic had previously suggested that he would provide clarity after Australian Open officials made their stance clear, but that has so far failed to materialise.
Respected New York Times tennis writer Christopher Clarey, who was in Turin covering the ATP Finals, said he believes the issue extends beyond just the Serb's participation in the Australian Open.
World no clearer about Novak Djokovic status
“(Novak Djokovic) kept us guessing after he lost to Alexander Zverev (at the ATP Finals),” Clarey said on SEN Breakfast.
“He was talking about giving clarity once he got the policy from Tennis Australia, the policy came and he gave us no clarity.
“I assume he knows what he wants to do, but he’s choosing to wait until maybe the entry list is announced again or he decides to pull out closer to the event.
“It’s hard to know, he’s a strong-minded guy and nobody knows for sure that’s not already vaccinated. I assume he would’ve told us if he were by now in this situation and if it comes down his personal belief, I know it will be tricky for him.
“I don’t think Australia is going to be the only place that this will arise in the coming months, there will be other countries that will require players to be vaccinated.
“It’s not simply an Australian Open call he’s making, it’ll be more than that. I think it’ll be hard for him to continue in the sport next year without it.”
If he does go to Melbourne, Djokovic has the chance to break a tie with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal and win a record 21st grand slam singles title.
Nadal has confirmed he will play at Melbourne Park while Federer is out following another round of knee surgery.
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