Novak Djokovic says he will compete at Australian Open with medical exemption

Novak Djokovic withdraw from Serbia’s team for the ATP Cup in Sydney

World number one Novak Djokovic says he will defend his Australian Open title later this month after receiving a medical exemption from having a Covid-19 vaccination.

All players and staff at the tournament must be vaccinated or have an exemption granted by an expert independent panel.

Djokovic, a nine-time Australian Open winner, has not spoken publicly about his vaccination status.

The tournament begins in Melbourne on 17 January.

“I’ve spent fantastic quality time with my loved ones over the break and today I’m heading down under with an exemption permission,” the 34-year-old said on Instagram on Tuesday. “Let’s go 2022.

“I am ready to live and breathe tennis in the next few weeks of competition.”

Earlier this week, Australian Open chief Craig Tiley said that some unvaccinated players had been granted exemptions to play in the year’s first Grand Slam.

Applications for medical exemptions are being assessed anonymously by two separate panels, with inflammatory cardiac illness or another acute condition listed as valid reasons.

But it is also possible Djokovic has recently tested positive for the virus, which would allow him to defer taking the vaccine.

Djokovic had pulled out of the Serbia team for the ATP Cup in Sydney, which had raised doubts over his participation at Melbourne Park.

He has won the past three Australian Opens and is in a three-way tie on 20 majors with Roger Federer, who misses the tournament through injury, and Rafa Nadal in the all-time list.

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