Novak Djokovic is just one win away from a record breaking 21 Grand Slam titles, and will be hoping to surpass Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the stakes at the Australian Open
He’s just one win away from a record breaking 21st Grand Slam win – but Novak Djokovic may not have the chance to create more history at the Australian Open.
Not unless the world No 1 changes his anti-vaccination stance on Covid anyway.
The Serbian star has publicly voiced his opposition to the vaccine, and is even said to be prepared to miss tennis tournaments that require players to be protected.
That stance may be tested come January, with the Australian Government continuing to impose strict Covid-19 restrictions on the country. And with the first major of the year set to start in Melbourne on January 17, 2022, talks are ongoing between Victoria’s Government and Tennis Australia officials regarding the eligibility of players who are unvaccinated.
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The Age newspaper has reported “it is probable a separate vaccine mandate will be required for tennis stars to play in Melbourne.”
The publication did state that Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley was concerned about the potential impact on the tournament were star names forced to miss out, but has been told by state Government officials allowances won’t be made.
Djokovic, 34, has won three Grand Slams in 2021 and only missed out on the fourth, which would have etched his name even further into the history books, at the US Open after losing in the final to Daniil Medvedev in Flushing Meadows.
However, he would be overwhelming favourite to triumph at the Rod Laver Arena, having captured his first Slam title there in 2008 and proceeding to win the tournament another eight times since – including 2019, 2020, and 2021.
Djokovic has cut a divisive figure ever since the tennis calendar was first disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic back in March 2020. Unhappy at the lack of action for professional players, he hosted the infamous Adria Tour event, which included after parties and social distancing not being implemented.
As a result, a host of players and participants, including Djokovic himself, contracted the virus and he was forced to publicly apologise.
He’s not been alone in his stance however, with Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas another opposed to being jabbed, while women’s world no 2 Aryna Sabalenka voiced her discontent at the prospect, only to be ruled out of the Indian Wells tournament this week after testing positive for Covid.
it has been estimated that around 50% of the ATP Tour, and 60% of the WTA Tour, have been vaccinated.