The 2022 Australian Open entry list was published on Wednesday and one name caught a lot of people’s attention: Novak Djokovic.
In any other year, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see his name on the list. After all, he’s tennis’ No. 1 player and has won the tournament nine times since 2008. However, Djokovic made headlines towards the end of November when it was revealed that he was unvaccinated against COVID-19.
That’s a big deal considering how all Australian Open participants, staff and fans must be fully vaccinated at least a week before the tournament begins on Monday, Jan. 17.
What’s even more interesting about this news is that Djokovic’s father, Srdjan, recently told Serbian media that his son won’t be “blackmailed” into getting the vaccine and that he likely wouldn’t be competing in the annual spectacle.
“As far as vaccines and non-vaccines are concerned, it is the personal right of each of us whether we will be vaccinated or not. No one has the right to enter that intimacy, it is guaranteed by the constitution.” – Srdjan Djokovic
Granted, just because Djokovic’s name is on the entry list doesn’t mean that he’ll take part in the Australian Open. He can still pull out of the tournament at any time or there’s also the chance that he can’t play if his vaccination status doesn’t change.
Craig Tiley, chief executive of Tennis Australia, previously spoke about how no players will be given special treatment and that all competitors must be fully vaccinated if they want to compete next month.
Djokovic has declined to disclose his vaccination status in the past, as well as whether or not he plans on getting the jab. He also hasn’t commented on his name being on the entry list, so only time will tell if he plans on competing or not.
Djokovic Chasing History at Australian Open
As mentioned before, Djokovic has won the men’s Australian Open nine times over the last 13 years — the most in the tournament’s history. Considering how Roy Emerson and Rafael Nadal are tied for the next highest total with six apiece, it goes to show just how dominant ‘Djoker’ has been over the years.
Having a shot at winning his 10th title at the event might be incentive enough for Djokovic to get vaccinated. After all, he’d be the first man in the event’s history to accomplish the task.
Nadal is the only male player in tennis history to have won a Grand Slam tournament at least 10 times (13 French Open titles), so Djokovic would be a part of exclusive company if he plays in Australia this year and wins it all.
Despite all the drama and the uncertainty of his status, Djokovic is still favored to win the 2022 Australian Open on most online sportsbooks.
For instance, Bovada continues to list him as the +125 favorite over the likes of Daniil Medvedev (+250) and Alexander Zverev (+400). If Djokovic doesn’t play, the field could see a pretty big shift. However, as long as there’s a chance of him competing in January, it’s hard to bet against a player who’s won three straight Australian Opens.