The father of 20-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic said he did not expect his son to play at the Australian Open after claiming the Serb was “blackmailed” “from tennis officials.
Djokovic’s participation in the Melbourne Park Grand Slam has been the subject of intense debate across the tennis world, with Australian Open officials saying unvaccinated players will not be able to participate and the world No.1 refusing to disclose his vaccination status.
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Djokovic, 34, who would try to overtake rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal with a record 21st Grand Slam title in Melbourne, declined to say whether or not he has been vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Djokovic has always said that his status is a private matter and that it is his choice whether or not to get the shot.
But Australian Open tournament chief Craig Tiley said all players had to undergo a double vaxx in order to participate.
Speaking on Serbian TV, Djokovic’s father Srdjan likened the restrictions to “blackmail” and made a resounding appeal that his son “probably won’t play” in the news’ first grand slam tournament. year.
“Of course he would like to go with all his heart,” Djokovic’s father Srdjan told Serbian channel Prda TV.
“Because he’s a sportsman and there are a lot of our people, the (Serbian) diaspora, there who would love to see Novak.
“But I really don’t know if that will happen. Probably not under these conditions, with this blackmail and when it will be done that way.”
Srdjan Djokovic also defended his son’s “exclusive and personal right” to be vaccinated or not, and claimed that even he did not know whether Novak had received the vaccine.
Tiley revealed last week that Djokovic “has said he considers this a private matter for himself.”
“We would love to see Novak here. He knows he will need to be vaccinated to play here,” he added.
Djokovic contracted Covid-19 during the ill-fated Adria Tour event he hosted in the Balkans in June 2020, but said he was not suffering from any symptoms.
Tiley said last week that he expected Djokovic to compete in the New Year’s first grand slam, saying he couldn’t imagine the Serbian pass up the chance to get ahead of Federer and Nadal on the majors list. of all time by winning a 10th Australian Open Crown.
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“He hasn’t shared his status with anyone,” Tiley told sports radio station SEN.
“He thinks what you say about your medical position is private and he thinks people should have the right to choose.”
But Tiley added, âNovak has won nine Australian Opens and I’m sure he wants to reach 10.
âHe’s on 20 Grand Slam titles, just like Rafa Nadal, who is coming, and Roger Federer, so one of them is going to outdo the other.
âI don’t think Novak will want to leave this feat to anyone else.
“One thing is for sure, if he plays here in January, then he is vaccinated.”
Djokovic said at the weekend that “we’ll have to wait and see” when asked if he will be at Melbourne Park to defend his title.
Currently, around 85 percent of players have secured the jab and Tiley said he expects it to reach between 95 and 100 percent by January.
“We take a lot of credit for ourselves because we put a vaccination requirement there (by coming to Australia),” he said.
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