Djokovic will defend Australian Open title after exemption from vaccination

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates winning his group stage match against Russia’s Andrey

Tennis – ATP Finals – Pala Alpitour, Turin, Italy – November 17, 2021 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates winning his group stage match against Russia’s Andrey Rublev REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

MELBOURNE -World number one Novak Djokovic said on Tuesday he would defend his Australian Open title at Melbourne Park later this month after receiving a medical exemption from getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

Djokovic, who had declined to reveal his COVID-19 vaccination status, said previously that he was unsure whether he would compete at the Grand Slam due to concerns over Australia’s quarantine rules.

“I’ve spent fantastic quality time with my loved ones over the break and today I’m heading Down Under with an exemption permission. Let’s go 2022,” the Serbian player said on Instagram.

Organizers of the Australian Open, which starts on Jan. 17, had stipulated that all participants must be vaccinated against the coronavirus or have a medical exemption granted by an independent panel of experts.

But Djokovic pulled out of the Serbia team for the ATP Cup in Sydney to raise doubts over his participation in the year’s first Grand Slam in Melbourne.

“I am ready to live and breathe tennis in the next few weeks of competition. Thanks everyone for the support,” Djokovic added in his statement, which was accompanied by a picture of him in an airport.

Djokovic has won a record nine Australian Open titles, including the last three, and is in a three-way tie on 20 majors with Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal in the all-time list.

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