Mystery deepens over Djokovic status before ATP Cup in Sydney
World number one Novak Djokovic remains a participant for the start of this weekend's ATP Cup in Australia amid rumblings that the Serb's vaccination status would rule him out of both that event and the upcoming Australian Open.
Djokovic, winner of the past three Grand Slam events in Melbourne, has been central to one of 2021's most notable tennis subplots concerning the Serbian star's vaccination status.
Despite refusing to comment publicly on the matter, it has been widely speculated that Djokovic has yet to receive a vaccine against Covid-19 – something which would mean he falls foul of Australia's incredibly strict guidelines when it comes to gaining entry into the country.
His fans were given a glimmer of hope in recent days when it was confirmed that Djokovic was listed as a member of Serbia's team for the ATP Cup which begins in Sydney this weekend.
Djokovic and members of his entourage would be required to be fully vaccinated to enter Australia – though local public health chiefs offered a potential olive branch to unvaccinated players who they say might be eligible for medical exemptions to the restrictions.
An unnamed member of the Serbia team is also reported to have told the media that he was "99%" sure that Djokovic would pull out of the ATP event – but with just days remaining before his match with Norway’s Casper Ruud on Saturday, the Serbian ace has yet to bow out.
"We haven’t heard of any withdrawals from Team Serbia for the ATP Cup," a spokesperson for the tournament said via AFP.
Qualification for the ATP Cup is determined by a country's top-ranked player, which in the case of Serbia is Djokovic.
Had he not been listed as a team member it is unlikely that Serbia would have qualified for the event – something which ignited speculation that Djokovic would soon pull out of the event.
This scenario would not have affected the team's status in the ATP Cup once their qualification had been confirmed.
Djokovic, though, has yet to arrive in Australia in Tennis Australia's initial batch of flights into Melbourne and Sydney and has previously expressed hesitancy towards the various vaccines available against Covid-19.
His father Srdjan has also accused tennis chiefs of "blackmail" due to their 'no vaccine, no play' policy.
Should Djokovic compete in the forthcoming Australian Open, he will be chasing a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title – but whether or not he takes to the court on Saturday against Norway's Ruud will be the truest indicator yet as to whether or not we can expect to see him at Melbourne Park in three weeks' time.