Novak Djokovic fired warning by Australian Open chief – No exemptions

Novak Djokovic speaks following his US Open defeat against Daniil Medvedev.

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Novak Djokovic has been issued a warning by the Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley. The South African revealed no players hoping to compete at the Australian Open have yet been granted medical exemption from vaccination.

The 59-year-old reiterated that players will not be allowed to participate in tennis’ first grand slam of the year if they have not been inoculated.

The world number one was named on the entry list for the event, but his vaccination status is still unknown.

“To be clear up front, no one can play the Australian Open unless they are vaccinated,” Tiley told the ABC.

“The only condition at which, outside of being vaccinated, that you could compete is if you receive a medically approved exemption from Australian authorities.

“I’ve seen reports this morning. There’s been no medical exemptions that have been granted at this point.

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“Everyone goes on the entry list,” he added. “It’s not a commitment list about exactly who’s in the draw. That comes in several weeks’ time when the actual list and draw gets finalised for the Australian Open.”

This past weekend Djokovic provided an update following his final match of 2021 in the Davis Cup, saying his decision would become clear “very soon”, although refused to give a firm answer once again.

After losing the decisive semi-finals doubles rubber against Croatia 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,” he said. “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.” 

“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.”

Djokovic has been named in Serbia’s squad for January’s ATP Cup, taking place in Sydney.

The ATP Cup is a team event being held in Sydney from January 1, in the lead up to the first Major of 2022.

His place in the Australian team tournament was confirmed just days after his father Srdjan Djokovic told Serbian TV channel Prva that his son “probably won’t” compete at the Australian Open after claiming he was being “blackmailed” to disclose his vaccination status.

While the world No 1 is in the official draw for the ATP Cup, he can still pull out of the tournament which is now less than four weeks away.

Nations qualify for the ATP Cup based on their top player’s ranking, making Serbia the No 1 team at the event thanks to Djokovic’s ranking, but they would now get to keep their place in the competition even if the 20-time Grand Slam champion withdrew.

Team Serbia has been drawn in the same group as Team Spain, where Rafael Nadal is noticeably missing from the five-man squad.

At the inaugural ATP Cup in 2020, Serbia defeated Spain 2-1 in the final, with Djokovic and Nadal leading their respective teams as the top-ranked players in their home nations.

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