Novak Djokovic told to get Covid vaccine before Australian Open as Serb faces possible ban

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

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World No 1 Novak Djokovic could find himself banned from the Australian Open after a fresh vaccination warning was issued to all players looking to compete. Casey Dellacqua has urged those looking to play in the first Grand Slam of the 2022 season to get vaccinated before arriving in Melbourne for the event. It comes after fears that players will not be allowed to enter the country or tournament if they haven’t been jabbed at all.

Djokovic is already the favourite to lift the title in Melbourne at the beginning of next year.

The world No 1 started his 2021 season by beating Daniil Medvedev in the Australian Open final to win his then-18th Major title.

It was the start of a sensational year for the Serb, who went on to put himself on contention for the Calendar Grand Slam by winning the French Open and Wimbledon, but fell at the final hurdle as world No 2 Medvedev got revenge on the top seed at the US Open, defeating Djokovic in straight sets to win his maiden Major title.

Having been denied of the chance to win all four Grand Slams in a single year as well as a record 21st Major, the world No 1 will be hungry to come back stronger at the next big tournament, but he now faces a potential ban from the Australian Open, as organisers have been unable to rule out the possibility of allowing unvaccinated players to enter the event.

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It comes as former pro Casey Dellacqua issued a fresh warning to all Aussie Open hopefuls on behalf of Tennis Australia.

“Obviously the landscape is changing here so those conditions we hope will change but we can only let them know what we know now. And that is that the Australian Open will go ahead the last two weeks of January,” she said, appearing on Nine’s Wide World of Sports.

“We know that there will be a bubble leading into that where they’ll have competitive opportunities to play but we can only go on what we know now.”

Unable to rule out the chance that players who refused the vaccine could themselves be refused entry into the tournament and the country, the player-turned-pundit added: “Our message to the playing group at the moment is, if you want the best conditions, our best piece of advice is to go and get vaccinated.”

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After calling on both the ATP and WTA Tour to take the lead in encouraging player vaccinations, she also admitted: “What I can say is if the players are coming out to Australia, the ones that are vaccinated versus the ones that are unvaccinated, their conditions will look quite different.

“So our best piece of advice to the playing group is to go and get vaccinated.”

Dellacqua’s comments come off the back of a threat made by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews last week, as he took a subtle dig at Djokovic when admitting players could only be guaranteed entry if they had a full dose of the vaccine.

“[Grand Slam] titles won’t protect you. The only title that will protect you is you being able to have had your first dose and second dose,” he told reporters.

Tennis has had a noticeably lower vaccination rate than other sports, with around 65% of ATP players currently believed to have received a full dose of the Covid vaccine.

Djokovic is believed to be one of the players who is yet to be vaccinated, and previously shared his hopes that there would not be a requirement implemented on thr tour.

“I don’t think it’ll come to that. I hope not, because I’ve always believed in freedom of choice,” the world No 1 told reporters in April when asked if mandatory vaccines were a possibility.  

“And I will keep the decision as to whether I’m going to get vaccinated or not to myself, it’s an intimate decision and I don’t want to go into this game of pro and against vaccines, which the media is unfortunately creating these days.”

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