World No. 1 Novak Djokovic was noncommittal when asked about playing the 2022 Australian Open.
AO tournament director Craig Tiley believes the nine-time champion will play Melbourne for one massive reason: attaining history.
“Novak has won nine Australian Opens, I’m sure he wants to get to 10,” Tiley told Australia’s SEN Radio. “He’s on 20 Grand Slam titles as is Rafa Nadal, who is coming, and Roger Federer.
“One of them is going to surpass the other and I don’t think Novak would want to leave that to someone else.”
The 2022 Australian Open starts on January 17th.
Djokovic, who has declined to disclose if he’s received the Coronavirus vaccination, has said he’s waiting for an official statement from Tennis Australia on its vaccination policy before deciding if he will travel to Melbourne Park to defend his Australian Open crown.
In past press conferences Djokovic, who contracted Coronavirus during the Adria Tour in July, 2020, has said he opposes tournaments mandating vaccinations for players. Asked after his ATP Finals semifinal loss to Alexander Zverev last week if he will defend his Australian Open crown, Djokovic replied “we’ll see. We’ll have to wait and see.”
“I haven’t been talking to [Tennis Australia], to be honest,” Djokovic said. “I was just waiting to hear what the news is going to be. Now that I know, we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Tiley said he believes between 90 and 95 percent of players will be vaccinated by the time the Melbourne major starts and he attributes the rise in player vaccinations to Australia mandating vaccination for players to enter the nation.
“Today more than 85 percent are (vaccinated),” Tiley told SEN on Thursday. “And we take a lot of credit for that because we put a vaccination requirement on it.
“We think by the time we get to January it will be between 90-95 percent vaccinated because if you’re not, you cannot play.”
Photo credit: Tennis Australia