Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley expects Novak Djokovic to feature at the 2022 Australian Open due to the tennis history on the line. Tiley also thinks up to 95% of players will be vaccinated by January in order to play the year's first Major.
Tiley recently confirmed that players would have to be vaccinated to enter the state of Victoria and play at the Melbourne Slam. Djokovic's participation is uncertain after he has repeatedly declined to reveal his vaccination status.
The Serb replied "we'll see" when asked if he would be playing the event at last week's ATP Finals. Djokovic has won a record nine Australian Open titles, and is a three-time defending champion.
Speaking on radio station SEN, as reported by The Guardian, Tiley explained how he expects to see up to 10% more players be vaccinated by January because of the Australian Open mandate.
“Today more than 85% [of players] are [vaccinated],” Tiley said. “And we take a lot of credit for that because we put a vaccination requirement on it. We think by the time we get to January it will be between 90-95% vaccinated because if you’re not, you cannot play.”
Tiley then declared he expects Djokovic to follow the rules and play because of the chance to win a record 21st Major and 10th Australian Open title. He believes Djokovic will not want to lose ground in the Grand Slam race, while also confirming the Serb's great rival Rafael Nadal will be in Melbourne.
“Novak has won nine Australian Opens, I’m sure he wants to get to 10,” Tiley continued. “He’s on 20 Grand Slam titles, as is Rafa Nadal, who is coming, and Roger Federer. One of them is going to surpass the other and I don’t think Novak would want to leave that feat to someone else.”
"I think Novak Djokovic will receive fair treatment if he plays Australian Open" - Craig Tiley
During the conversation, Craig Tiley also addressed how Novak Djokovic will be received by the Australian Open fans if he does play the event. He claimed that most people do not share the 34-year-old's view on vaccination, but expects the nine-time champion to be treated respectfully.
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“He’s one of the greatest players of all time,” Tiley added. “He’s had a view on something, some share [it] and the majority don’t, and I think there will be fair treatment of Novak.”