"It would be a shock to me if Novak Djokovic doesn't come to Australia" - Todd Woodbridge

2020 Australian Open Men's Champion Novak Djokovic
2020 Australian Open Men's Champion Novak Djokovic

Todd Woodbridge recently claimed it is unlikely for Novak Djokovic to sit out of the 2022 Australian Open over his vaccination status. According to Woodbridge, Djokovic will not want to let go of the opportunity to win a 21st Slam and move ahead of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the Grand Slam race.

The Government of Victoria recently announced a health mandate that requires professional athletes, amongst other workers, to receive both jabs of the vaccine no later than 26 November. The mandate further states that individuals must receive the first of those jabs by 15 October.

The Premier of the State of Victoria, Daniel Andrews, also made it clear that non-Australian athletes wouldn't be permitted into the country if they were not double vaccinated. As such, many wondered if Novak Djokovic - who has often spoken against making the COVID-19 vaccination compulsory - would get jabbed in order to take part in the Australian Open (assuming he is yet to do so).

But Woodbridge believes Djokovic will do whatever is required to participate, given his highly ambitious nature.

"With so much on the line for Novak, you've got to think that he's seriously going to think about it... he's tied at 20 with Roger and Rafa for Grand Slam titles and he wants to take that over and spread that gap," Woodbridge said to 2GB's Wide World of Sports radio.

The Aussie added "it would be a shock" if Novak Djokovic were to take the drastic step of not traveling to Melbourne for the year's first Major.

"Coming to the tournament that he's won so much, you've got to think he's seriously thinking about doing it," Woodbridge said. "It would be a shock to me if he doesn't come to Australia."

"If Novak Djokovic wants to come and play in the Australian Open, it's looking likely he will have to take that vaccination" - Todd Woodbridge

Novak Djokovic with his 2021 Australian Open title
Novak Djokovic with his 2021 Australian Open title

Todd Woodbridge did acknowledge, however, that it would be difficult for Novak Djokovic to take part in next year's Australian Open without getting vaccinated. Woodbridge even suggested the Serb might think he is immune to the dreaded virus given that he has contracted it in the past.

"It's difficult," Woodbridge said. "He's obviously had COVID-19 ... he probably feels he's got some special strength against it."

The 22-time Major champion further pointed out that many other countries are also making it mandatory to get both jabs of the COVID-19 vaccine. In that context, Woodbridge opined that Tennis Australia might not have a say in this matter, and that the Australian Government would likely have the last word.

"The reality is, the rest of the world is doing what we're doing. I think at some point you probably think he's going to have to get vaccinated," Woodbridge added. "It's going to be taken out of Tennis Australia's hands, it will be what the government decides you've got to do to get into the country."

The Aussie then reiterated that Novak Djokovic would have to be vaccinated in order to play in the 2022 Australian Open.

"If he (Novak Djokovic) wants to come and play in the Australian Open, it's looking likely he will have to take that vaccination," Woodbridge said.

Edited by Musab Abid
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