Time is running out for Novak Djokovic to confirm his place in next year’s Australian Open, with tournament bosses taking the decision to only permit players that have been vaccinated against Covid-19 and the world number one remaining unclear on whether he will be able to compete in Melbourne.
The nine-time Australian Open winner, who has publicly criticised vaccine mandates in the past, has repeatedly refused to confirm whether he has been vaccinated and said “we’ll have to wait and see” when asked if he would be competing at Melbourne Park following his ATP Finals semi-final defeat to Alexander Zverev on Saturday.
"His team have been well aware of this," 16-time Grand Slam men’s doubles champion Todd Woodbridge said on WWOS radio.
Djokovic named in ATP Cup team for Sydney ahead of Australian Open
"The Australian Open entry list closes six weeks in advance of the tournament, so that's December 6.
But the reality is if he wants to have preparations in Australia, he's going to have to have had that jab probably this week.
Woodbridge added that if Djokovic wants to be seen as the greatest of all time in his sport, January’s Open is not to be missed.
"You can only be the greatest in your era, and he's turning out to be that. I think it's important that he goes on with it," he said.
"It may not be the happiest of endings that he's looking for if he doesn't come."
To play in Melbourne, Djokovic would need to board a charter flight between December 27 and January 3 and provide a negative Covid-19 test upon arrival.
'We'll have to wait and see' - Djokovic still unsure about Australian Open participation
Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley stressed that “time is running out” for the Serb if he needs to get vaccinated.
"At the end of the day, you want to give everyone the best possible chance to get in, and to do it within the parameters which we can," he said.
"We've got to still process the visa, and also process the exemption.
"Time is running out, and obviously you can get one vaccination - the Johnson & Johnson shot - but if you need a double vaccination, that window between the two vaccines is really closing."
Djokovic lost to Zverev in the semi-finals of the ATP Finals in Turin on Saturday, with the German going on to top world number two Daniil Medvedev in the final on Sunday.
After his semi-final win, Zverev said the situation is "not about tennis" and hopes that Djokovic will compete at the Australian Open, despite it being “easier to win the tournament” if he isn’t able to play.
Medvedev revels in 'amazing' Davis Cup victory
Russian Tennis Federation here to stay, but change is coming - Davis Cup final diary