‘I still don’t know’ – Novak Djokovic says he can’t commit to Australian Open defence yet

Defending champion Novak Djokovic says he is still unable to say whether or not he will play the 2022 Australian Open.

The world number one has won an astonishing nine titles in the tournament, and he would be a big favourite to get another should he play again in January.

However, Australia have always taken a hard line on anti-COVID measures, and many players were caught up in the after-effects of that this year.

Little has changed in the country since, meaning players will be forced into some tough decisions around the turn of the year, Djokovic included.

“I still don’t know if I will play in Melbourne,” Djokovic told Serbian newspaper Blic.

“Of course I want to go, Australia is my most successful Grand Slam, I want to participate, I love this sport, I still have motivation.”

“I am following the situation around Australia and as far as I understand, the final decision of the government of Australia and Tennis Australia will be in two weeks, so it is the first or second week of November.

“I do not believe that the conditions will change much in relation to what we already know. As was the case this year, there will be plenty of some restrictions.

“What I heard from my manager who is in direct contact with people from the Australian federation is that they are trying to improve conditions for everyone, both for those who have been vaccinated and for those who have not.”

This season’s Australian Open caused a lot of controversy, with dozens of players not allowed to even train during quarantine due to a positive test on their flight.

“The main problem is that if you are on a plane with a person who is positive, whether you are vaccinated or not, you automatically have to go to the room for 14 days.

“That happened to Viktor Troicki in January this year. Not only him, but also 70 players had to be quarantined. I talked to a lot of players and that is something that everyone has a bad memory of.

“It was not a good experience for us, for example, it was very difficult for Viktor. We had that quarantine where we could train, but if a man can’t train, then…

Novak Djokovic with Australian Open trophy

“Put a professional athlete in that kind of quarantine so he can’t get out of the room, and then expect him to play on some level.

“Not to mention the increased risk of injury, of which there were many, including me at this year’s Australian Open.

“If such conditions remain, I think that many players will think very well whether they will go or not.

“After all, the financial or economic aspect is the one that decides with many players.

“I don’t know if I’m going to Australia, I don’t know what’s going on. Currently the situation is not good at all.”

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