No vax talk from Novak: Djokovic shuts down Covid vaccine questions as uncertainty lingers over Australian Open status
World number one Novak Djokovic has refused to clarify his Covid vaccine status and will not do so until Australian officials have resolved their squabbles about unjabbed players at next year’s opening Grand Slam in Melbourne.
Confusion is rife after a leaked email circulated to women’s WTA stars said unvaccinated players would be allowed to play in Melbourne, assuming they underwent a strict two-week quarantine.
That position was backed up by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, only for the premier of the state of Victoria, Daniel Andrews, to reject any exemptions for unjabbed players to feature at the event.Also on rt.com Australian Open: Doubts again emerge for unvaccinated players as politicians squabble about quarantine exemptions
The ongoing uncertainty has fueled speculation surrounding men’s stars including the world’s current top two, Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev – neither of whom have shared their vaccine status.
Medvedev reiterated his stance on Sunday, telling journalists ahead of the Paris Masters that “I am willing to play in Australia, but I won't say if you will see me there in January.”
Djokovic faced scrutiny after his remarks earlier in the pandemic when he asserted he would be against getting the vaccine.
The 34-year-old has since been more guarded in his comments, and effectively shut down vaccine discussions in a press conference on Sunday.
“Well, I’m going to decide on whether I go to Australia or not after I see the official statement from Tennis Australia,” Djokovic said as he prepares for his Paris Masters run.
“Right now, we don’t have any official announcement or statement. So until that’s out, I won’t be talking about this anymore, because I don’t want to be part of the stories about the assumptions and what-ifs.
“When official condition requirements to travel to Australia and play in Australia are out, then obviously I’ll see what I personally do with that, and also the bigger group of the players, you know, because the situation is obviously different in Australia than most parts of the world.”
Djokovic is a nine-time champion Down Under and sealed the 2021 title after seeing off Medvedev in straight sets.
The Serb won three of the four major titles on offer in 2021 but fell short of an historic ‘Calendar Slam’ when Medvedev defeated him in the US Open final in September.
The pair are tussling to finish the year as world number one – with Djokovic currently 800 points ahead of the Russian in the ATP rankings.
“The year-end No.1 is on the line between Medvedev and myself, and I’m in a pretty good position in terms of the ranking points and the race,” said Djokovic.
“So that’s obviously the goal for the end of the season, other than trying to do well in the Davis Cup with the national team.
“So hopefully I can have a strong finish of the season and clinch that year-end No.1.”
Should 20-time Grand Slam winner Djokovic feature in Melbourne in January, he would have the opportunity to move ahead of generational rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in their battle for the biggest haul of major titles.Also on rt.com Vax on, vax off: Leaked email suggests Aus Open will allow unvaccinated stars, sparks row between Azarenka & journalist