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Turin, Italy: Novak Djokovic says he’s going to have to “wait and see” if he plays the Australian Open after tournament chief Craig Tiley confirmed that everyone who attends the first Grand Slam tennis tournament of 2022 will need to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 — including all the players.
Djokovic, a nine-time Australian Open champion, has refused to say if he’s vaccinated — or if he intends to get vaccinated.
“We’ll see. We’ll have to wait and see,” Djokovic said after getting beat by Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals of the ATP Finals on Saturday — marking his final match on tour this year.
Private matter: Novak Djokovic has refused to publicly share his vaccination status. Credit:AP
“I haven’t been talking to them, to be honest,” Djokovic added. “I was just waiting to hear what the news is going to be and now that I know we’ll just have to wait and see.”
If he does go to Australia, Djokovic can attempt to break a tie with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal and win a record 21st Grand Slam singles title.
The tournament is scheduled for January 17-30. The Victorian state government had earlier said only vaccinated persons would be allowed into the site for the tournament, and Tiley reiterated that on Saturday.
“Everyone on site, the fans, all the staff, the players, will need to be vaccinated,” Tiley said at the tournament’s official launch. “There’s been a lot of speculation about Novak’s position, he’s said it’s a private matter.
“We would love to see Novak here, but he knows he needs to be vaccinated in order to play. He’s always said that the Australian Open is the event that puts the wind in his sails.”
Zverev overcame late nerves to secure a 7-6(4) 4-6 6-3 victory over world number one Djokovic to set up a final showdown with Daniil Medvedev at the ATP Finals.
After splitting the first two sets, unforced errors began to creep into Djokovic’s game in the third and he sent a backhand long to hand Zverev his first service break of the match for a 3-1 lead.
Two games later, the 24-year-old German appeared to get tight, taking speed off his first serves and pushing his groundstrokes, which opened the door for the resilient Djokovic to break back.
But Zverev pounded a second serve Djokovic could not handle to grab a 5-2 lead before sealing the match with his 14th ace.
The victory prevented Djokovic from winning a sixth title at the season-ending tournament, which would have tied him with Federer’s record haul. Zverev won the title in 2018.
Earlier in the day, defending champion Medvedev stormed into the final after crushing Norway’s Casper Ruud 6-4 6-2.
Medvedev started strongly against Ruud, breaking early to take a 2-1 lead in the first set and dictating play from the back of the court as Ruud struggled to contend with his opponent’s deep groundstrokes.
The Russian won 85 per cent of his first-serve points as he wrapped up the opener in 42 minutes.
The second set followed a similar pattern to the first, with Medvedev racing into a 4-2 lead before closing out the match in 80 minutes, sending down 17 winners and making just 14 unforced errors in the one-sided victory.
The 25-year-old US Open champion said one key to success was to never let up regardless of what the scoreboard says.
“As soon as you are a set and a break-up you feel like you are in control, but that is when the danger is,” Medvedev said.
“You need to stay focused and fight for every point. In the last game I had 0-30 on my serve and, until the last point, it is never over. So, I am happy I was able to finish it.”
Medvedev cruised through the round-robin stage of the season-ending tournament with wins over Hubert Hurkacz, Zverev and Jannik Sinner before dispatching Ruud.
“I think all the matches were a great level. Different opponents and different styles,” he said.
“I managed to win all the matches. It was not an easy match [today]. When you are in the final you can’t complain, so I am just looking forward to tomorrow and hopefully I can have my best match.”
The result marked world number two Medvedev’s ninth win in a row at the ATP Finals and he improved his head-to-head record over Ruud to 3-0.
World number two Medvedev holds a 6-5 lead in head-to-head matches against Zverev.
AP and Reuters
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