Novak Djokovic says he still has a ‘great desire’ to compete as he makes his first return to competitive tennis since the Australian Open fiasco.
The world number one will make his return in Dubai this week and has been drawn against Italian youngster Lorenzo Musetti in the first round.
The Serbian suffered a very public exit from the Australian Open following confusion over his medical exemption and subsequent perceived anti-vaccination stance which the Australian authorities deemed to be dangerous.
Djokovic has since confirmed that although he is not part of the anti-vax movement, he is unvaccinated against COVID and would rather miss future tournaments, including Grand Slams if necessary, rather than receive the jab.
Now, as Djokovic returns to the ATP tour, he admits he would like to play as many tournaments as possible but that the decision is out of his hands.
“I would like to play in many tournaments,” Djokovic told Serbian RTS.
“I am currently in a situation where it doesn’t depend on me. It depends on rules of certain countries in which tournaments are taking place,” he said.
“At the moment I know that I can play in Dubai. That is my next challenge. Next tournament. The first tournament this season. The first tournament since this situation in Australia, so I am excited to get back on the tennis court.”
Djokovic says despite his caution about the vaccination, he will keep an open mind and will continue to evaluate the situation as rules change.
“I train hard, and of course I have a great desire to compete in Grand Slams and all great ATP tournaments.
“We will see, the rules are constantly changing. I keep an open mind and I am not exclusive. I am trying to understand this whole situation regarding the pandemic and fight against the virus like every other citizen in the world” he continued.
“I have information that everyone else has, and I am trying, as professional a sportsman, which was always the case, to triple-check anything that goes into my body and in which way that can affect me.
“If anything changes half a per cent, I can feel that.
“Simply, at that top tennis level, every change can produce positive or negative results. I am merely cautious, and I took some time for myself before I make a decision.”
The other top seeds competing for the Dubai Open Championship include Andrey Rublev (2), Felix Auger-Aliassime (3) and Jannik Sinner (4).
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