Tennis: Djokovic will defend Australian Open title after exemption from vaccination

Novak Djokovic has received a medical exemption from getting vaccinated against Covid-19. PHOTO: AFP

MELBOURNE (REUTERS) - World No. 1 Novak Djokovic said on Tuesday (Jan 4) he would defend his Australian Open title at Melbourne Park this month after receiving a medical exemption from getting vaccinated against Covid-19.

Djokovic, who had declined to reveal his coronavirus 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 said on Instagram.

Organisers of the Australian Open, which starts on Jan 17 in Melbourne, 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.

“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 Rafael Nadal in the all-time list.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.