Australian Open: Novak Djokovic 'unlikely' to play due to Covid-19 rules

Defending champion Novak Djokovic is unlikely to play next year’s Australian Open unless rules on Covid-19 vaccinations for the event are relaxed, according to his father.

Novak Djokovic isn't likely to defend his Australian Open title, according to his father.

Organisers of the tournament in Melbourne, which takes place between January 17 and 30, will not permit unvaccinated players to compete at the first Slam of 2022. Djokovic has not disclosed whether he has had a vaccination or not and his father Srdjan feels that “under these conditions”, the 34-year-old Serbian will not make the journey to Australia.

"Under these blackmails and conditions, he probably won't [play]," Srdjan Djokovic told Serbian TV channel Prva. "I wouldn't do that. And he's my son, so you decide for yourself.

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"As far as vaccines and non-vaccines are concerned, it is the personal right of each of us whether we will be vaccinated or not. No-one has the right to enter into our intimacy."

Djokovic, who is currently representing Serbia at the Davis Cup, has won the Australian Open nine times and is chasing a record-setting 21st Slam title. He is currently tied on 20 majors alongside Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal and generally plays his best tennis at Melbourne Park. Nadal is expected to play, but Federer is recovering from knee surgery and is unlikely to be back on a tennis until the second part of the year.

Given the amount of global travel involved in the tour, tournament organisers expect 90-95 per cent of players to be vaccinated by the time the 2022 season begins, but it remains to be seen if Djokovic is one of them.