Djokovic adds to Australian Open suspense; organisers say there’s a lot of confusion

Despite his name figuring in the main draw entry list for the 2022 Australian Open and the Serbian committing to playing in the ATP Cup in Sydney — a lead-up tournament to the opening major of the year –, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic has still not cleared the air on whether he will compete in the tournament beginning January 17.

The winner of 20 majors has yet to confirm to the Australian Open organisers whether he has received the vaccination for Covid-19 or not, a prerequisite for competing at the Melbourne Park where he is the defending champion.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley has rejected reports which suggest that a medical exemption could be granted to Djokovic, the nine-time Australian Open champion.

On Thursday evening, Tiley said it was “really hard to say” whether Djokovic will defend his title in Melbourne. He said that while the world No. 1’s name was on the 104-male players’ entry list, Tennis Australia would only know about his participation in in the coming weeks.

“There’s a lot of confusion (around the entry list),”” he said on 3AW on Thursday. “The entry list is automatic based on your ranking and then in the next two weeks it’s determined who on that list is coming and then a couple of weeks after that, we do the draw.

“Players will pull themselves off the entry list if 100 per cent they know they aren’t coming up, it’s not an actual list of confirmation of players in the Australian Open.”

The 34-year-old Djokovic is yet to publicly reveal whether he’s been fully vaccinated or not. His father, Srdjan, recently said that Novak “probably won’t” play the Australian Open as the tournament organisers’ decision to not allow unvaccinated players — or players who don’t share their Covid-19 vaccination status — amounts to “blackmail”.

Asked whether Djokovic will decide to play in the Australian Open, Tiley said, “It’s a really hard question to answer. If he’s vaccinated, we need evidence of that certificate and if he’s not vaccinated and has a medical condition, he’ll have to go through the medical exemption process and that’s managed blind so we don’t know who’s making that application.

“A bit more will play out in the next couple of weeks, we know he wants to come as does every other athlete but they know the criteria and conditions they have to accept to come into Australia and into Victoria to play the Australian Open,” added Tiley.

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