Novak Djokovic warned vaccine decision at Australian Open could help Rafael Nadal
US Open: Djokovic shows frustration against Medvedev
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Andy Roddick has warned that Novak Djokovic could still be on 20 Grand Slams come Wimbledon next year if he is banned from the Australian Open. The government is pursuing a ban for all unvaccinated players, and those who do not get the jab in time to fly to Australia may not be allowed into the country for the tournament. The world No 1 is one player who has been outspoken in his thoughts against a mandatory vaccine.
Djokovic is already the favourite to win the Australian Open at the end of January, but his participation remains in big doubt.
The world No 1 won three Grand Slams in a row to start his season – the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon – and with his long-time rivals Federer and Nadal uncertain on when they will return to competition after taking a few months out for injury recovery, Djokovic is the main to beat in Melbourne early next year.
However, he has faced the threat of a possible ban in recent weeks, as the Australian government has been trying to push for a mandate requiring all players to be vaccinated.
Organisers are said to be resisting the ban, saying the tournament would risk losing top players who do not want to comply, but Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has already said Grand Slam titles “won’t protect” top stars who do not abide by the rules.
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Former world No 1 Andy Roddick has now warned that Djokovic could be stuck on 20 Grand Slam titles for almost a year if he does not comply and get the Covid vaccine.
The Serb is currently tied with Federer and Nadal on 20 Majors apiece, but had the chance to pull ahead at the US Open last month before falling at the final hurdle, losing to Daniil Medvedev in the championship match.
Djokovic will be eager to make up for the devastating US Open final loss, though if he is banned from the Australian Open, Roddick has doubted whether the 34-year-old will get the opportunity.
“If we project forward, Novak has been pretty outspoken against it,” the 2003 US Open champion said on Tennis Channel.
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Saying he wanted to speak about the potential mandate from a “tennis perspective” after fellow player-turned-pundit Chanda Rubin spoke of the safety factors in requiring players to be jabbed, Roddick touched on how a ban could affect Djokovic in the GOAT race.
“What does this do? Does he decide not to play in Australia?” he asked.
“Then all of a sudden he’s looking at the French Open, will we have Rafa healthy there?
“Is he still on 20 as we’re going into Wimbledon next year? Nobody would’ve thought that before the US Open final so there are certainly some things in play.”
The 39-year-old, who retired back in 2012, also thought a mandate would show how much players were willing to stand by their beliefs against the vaccine.
He said: “Listen, we’re going to see how deep an individual belief system runs.
“There are some people who are like ‘well I have these beliefs but I can put those to the side if it means I can play in a tennis tournament’.”
One player who has already committed to getting jabbed after hearing the news about a potential mandatory vaccine at the Australian Open is Dominic Thiem.
Last year’s US Open champion has been sidelined with an injury since June but admitted he would be getting the vaccine in order to make his comeback in Australia
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