Novak Djokovic is still not confirmed to play in the Australian Open next month, despite being vaccinated as a mandatory requirement for every player in Melbourne.

  • Novak Djokovic is still the World No. 1 and it has yet to be confirmed that he will go down under.
  • Due to Melbourne’s strict vaccination requirements, his participation in the event is uncertain
  • His participation in the opening night ATP Cup team competition on January 1st is scheduled. 

Novak Djokovic has still not confirmed if he will travel Down Under for next month’s Australian Open. 

The nine-time champion’s participation at the season-opening Grand Slam is in doubt due to the vexed issue of strict vaccine requirements in Melbourne. 

Djokovic will headline the night session of the ATP Cup team tournament on January 1. However, he has not confirmed his attendance to the event organisers. His vaccine scepticism is well-documented. 

Novak Djokovic lowers his mask to cheer at a basketball game in Serbia last week

Novak Djokovic throws down his mask as he cheered at last week’s Serbian basketball game

In the last two weeks, he was very visible in Belgrade. He looked relaxed and happy while attending basketball games and other functions that were related to his charity foundation.

He has yet to confirm whether or not he will be playing. 

Whatever his views, the temptation to go must be overwhelming, given that he stands on twenty Grand Slam titles each with Federer and Nadal, that Melbourne is his ‘banker’, and that both Daniil Medvedev and Alex Zverev are now genuine challengers.

His fans have expressed their dismay at the decision to diagnose him as a vocal pro-vaccine Nadal.

Tuesday saw more players announce that they will delay or cancel their trip to Australia.  

Olympic gold medallist, Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic, became the latest player to reveal that she has caught Covid, following on from Monday’s news of Rafael Nadal.

His participation is in doubt due to the vexed issue of strict vaccine requirements in Melbourne

Because of the controversial issue surrounding strict Melbourne vaccine requirements, his participation may be in jeopardy.

The Spaniard’s coach, former world No 1 Carlos Moya, also reported that he has the virus and is self-isolating. World number 32 Karolina Muchova was another announcing her withdrawal while last year’s beaten finalist, American Jennifer Brady, is also a non-traveller.

With the steady drip-feed of absentees, the hope that this will be an entirely ‘normal’ Australian Open after all the disruption of 2021 becomes increasingly remote.

Roger Federer, Serena Williams and his wife Serena are both out. Nadal even suggested that he may not be ready for the tournament due to slow foot recovery.

Wimbledon winner Karolina Pliskova is out due to a hand injury, and world number four Stefanos Tsitsipas has another question. 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu also stated that she was not able to play because of her mental illness.

Spread of Omicron virus throughout the globe is complicating an already complicated picture due to the vexing issue of Melbourne’s strict vaccination requirements.

The latest numbers from the WTA Tour say that, as at the end of last week, 85% of the world’s top 100 women are vaccinated.

Rafa Nadal cannot guarantee he will make the trip to Melbourne for the Australian Open

Rafa Nadal can’t guarantee that he will travel to Melbourne for Australian Open

It is less than two more weeks until the start of the next season. While this represents an increase in the number of participants compared to the second-thirds reported in autumn, it also suggests that there will simply be no players.

The possibility exists that some players may decide not to travel, or are not giving their full reason for staying home, raising the risk of this. Frenchman Pierre Hugues Herbert and Olivia Gadecki, both from Australia, have so far stated openly that the vaccine issue has stopped them from playing. Sputnik in Russia isn’t accepted, the latter was pointed out by Pierre Hugues Herbert. 

This is not a good sign for an event that ran at a significant deficit due to the reduced attendance and extra expenses associated with staging the event during the pandemic.

Tennis Australia’s annual report revealed earlier this month that the organisation made a net loss of around £54 million in the past 15 months, and that its cash reserves are exhausted.

There are not many restrictions for visitors who have been fully vaccinated. Omicron cases in Sydney and Melbourne are on the rise and there are no restrictions for spectators at the Open.

As for the players going – still the large majority – many will be following the lead of Andy Murray and minimising their festive contacts, trying to ensure that they can take their post-Christmas flights to Australia.