Novak Djokovic speaks following his US Open defeat against Daniil Medvedev.
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Novak Djokovic refused to comment on his Australian Open participation after ending the year with a doubles loss in the Davis Cup semi-finals. The nine-time champion is in doubt to travel to Melbourne for the season-opening Grand Slam after organisers confirmed full vaccination would be mandatory for all players. The world No 1 has previously been against vaccine mandates on the tour and has refused to disclose his vaccination status.
Djokovic has been in doubt to compete in the 2022 Australian Open for several months, as government officials looked to ban unvaccinated players from entering the country and competing.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion previously ruled out disclosing his vaccine status, and in October told Serbian newspaper Blic: “I don’t know if I’m going to Australia, I don’t know what’s going on. Currently, the situation is not good at all.”
Tournament director and Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley has since confirmed that all players and personnel at the Australian Open must be fully vaccinated, and revealed that he had spoken with the world No 1, making him and his team aware of the conditions.
“We have been speaking to Novak Djokovic’s team and Novak and the team understand clearly that in order to come and play the Australian Open they’ll need to be fully vaccinated,” he said, making the announcement on November 20.
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Having shared his doubts with Serbian media, the nine-time Australian Open champion later told reporters at last month’s Paris Masters that he would not comment on the matter until a final decision was made.
However, after Tiley’s announcement was made, Djokovic was asked whether he would compete in Australia following his semi-final loss to Alexander Zverev at the Nitto ATP Finals – his final ATP Tour tournament of the year.
“We’ll see. I haven’t been talking to them [Tennis Australia], to be honest. I was just waiting to hear what the news is going to be. Now that I know, we’ll just have to wait and see,” he said at the time.
The world No 1 has now given an update following his final match of 2021, saying his decision would become clear “very soon”, although refused to give a firm answer once again.
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Djokovic was representing Team Serbia at this week’s Davis Cup finals, with the squad making it all the way to the semi-final.
The 34-year-old kept his country alive in the competition by defeating Croatia’s Marin Cilic in the second singles rubber of their tie on Friday, after teammate Dusan Lajovic lost the first match world No 279 Borna Gojo – the revelation and MVP of this week’s team event.
The tie came down to the decisive doubles rubber to determine which country would book a spot in Sunday’s final.
Djokovic had already kept Serbia in the competition by winning the doubles earlier this week, partnering with Nikola Cacic, but his teammate was swapped for higher-ranked Filip Kajinovic, though the pair were no match for the world No 1 doubles team of Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic, who were representing Croatia.
After losing the doubles rubber 7-5 6-1, Djokovic was asked about his plans for the 2022 season, which begins in less than a month with Australian Open warm-up tournaments kicking off on January 2.
“I understand you want some answers on where I start the season, how I start it. I’m really, really tired from this season and this whole year, so I just prefer sticking to the family quality time, rehab mode, then let’s see what the future brings,” he told reporters after a crushing loss for Serbia in the semi-final.
“You will be informed. I know what you want. I’m not going to give you an answer tonight. I know what you want to ask me.”
Although the nine-time Australian Open champion refused to reveal whether or not he’d be returning to Melbourne to defend his title and compete for a record 21st Major, he confirmed that his decision would come to light “very soon” despite refusing to put a date on an announcement.
He added: “But you will be informed. That’s all I can tell you. I cannot give you any date. Obviously Australia is around the corner, so you will know very soon.”
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