Novak Djokovic and Craig Tiley
At a press conference on Tuesday, CEO of Tennis Australia, Craig Tiley highlighted that Novak Djokovic can only play at the 2022 Australian Open if he is “vaccinated” or has a “medical exemption.” Tiley also mentioned that on a personal level, he would “love” the Serbian to play in Melbourne and remarked that it will be “disappointing” if he doesn’t take part in the upcoming Grand Slam.
Novak Djokovic’s name is on the participants’ list for the Australian Open. However, the Victorian government’s vaccination policy, which makes it mandatory for all players to be completely vaccinated before arriving in Melbourne, could be an obstacle in the Serb’s path.
During the press conference, Tiley said that authorities would not “force” Novak Djokovic to disclose his vaccination status before the Australian Open. However, he clearly stated that the 20-time Grand Slam champion will have to miss the Major if he is neither vaccinated nor given a medical exemption.
“If Novak appears and plays the Australian Open, it will be either because he is vaccinated or because he has a medical exemption. Keeping your medical details private is your choice, as any of us could do with any matter we have or don’t have. We will not force you to disclose these details nor will we ask you to do so,” said Tiley at the press conference.Novak Djokovic with the Australian Open trophy
Tiley revealed that while Djokovic hasn’t said much about his medical records, he is confident that the World No. 1 registered his name for the Australian Open because he meets the desired conditions. The Australian also emphasized that he would be happy if Djokovic plays at the upcoming Grand Slam.
“He does not speak to anyone on a medical level, but I know that if he is here it is because he meets the conditions. We want to have the best players here, I would love for Novak to come. If he agrees with the conditions, luxury, if not, it will be disappointing,” added the CEO of Tennis Australia.
Often regarded as the ‘King of Melbourne Park’, Novak Djokovic is the most successful player at the Australian Open in the Open Era, having won the title on nine occasions. He currently enjoys a 21-match winning streak in Melbourne.
Craig Tiley believes Rafael Nadal will play at the Australian Open
At the same press conference, Tiley revealed that he feels Rafael Nadal will be present at the 2022 Australian Open. He emphasized that, since the Spaniard has tested positive for COVID-19 about three weeks before the Grand Slam, he could stop being “infectious” for a while after his recovery and possibly feature at the Major.
Rafael Nadal at the 2021 Barcelona Open”I am confident that Rafa will be here. The players who are now testing positive will stop being infectious after a while, at that time there will be no problem. If you are going to test positive and want to play the Australian Open, the time to to do it would be now,” concluded Tiley.
Even before testing positive, Nadal raised doubts over his participation at the Australian Open. After his match against Denis Shapovalov at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, Nadal stated that he can’t “100% guarantee” his presence at the Grand Slam and needs some time to make the final decision.
Rafael Nadal at the French Open 2021“I need to talk to my team and make a decision. I cannot 100% guarantee my participation in the Australian Open. My plan is to go there and do my best. That is my goal and that is the idea, but I have to see how my body feels after this pair of days. I have some time to make this decision. We will make it as the days go by,” said Nadal.
If Rafael Nadal does play at the Australian Open, he’ll be seeking a 21st Grand Slam title. Interestingly, a 21st Major in Melbourne would put Nadal in the lead in the Slam race for the first time in his career.