Novak Djokovic recently gave an in-depth interview to Jelena Medic of Blic, where he laid bare his schedule for the coming months. Djokovic revealed that he will play the Paris Masters, ATP Finals and Davis Cup Finals this year, before going on to talk about his Australian Open plans.
The World No. 1 cast some doubt on his participation in the Melbourne Slam, while claiming that things are "not good at all" Down Under. Moreover, for the umpteenth time over the past several months, Djokovic chose to remain tight-lipped when asked about his vaccination status.
Novak Djokovic, who has been out of action since losing the US Open final to Daniil Medvedev, began the interview by revealing that he only returned to racket training on Monday. The Serb added that upon resumption of practice, he hit a few balls with Olga Danilovic.
"I started training today," Novak Djokovic said. "It's been a long time since I last trained with a racket. Admittedly, I trained my fitness, but I have only just started tennis. Today I was Olga's sparring partner. I am preparing her, and we will see what kind of work I did as sparring when she goes to the next tournament."
The 34-year-old then confirmed his participation at the Paris Masters, ATP Finals and the Davis Cup Finals.
"For now, I plan to play Paris, the Final Masters in Turin and the Davis Cup," Djokovic said. "That’s my schedule until the end of the season."
Novak Djokovic them refused to clarify his vaccination status, and instead pointed out that it is against the law in Serbia to inquire about a person's medical details.
"I will not reveal my status whether I have been vaccinated or not," Djokovic said. "It is a private matter and according to our law, whoever asks you, you can in some way charge him for asking you. That is an immoderate question."
Novak Djokovic's vaccination status is of particular importance with respect to the Australian Open. The government of Victoria, the state in which the year's first Slam is held, recently released a health order which puts the participation of unvaccinated players in doubt.
Since the announcement of the health order, scores of fans around the world have expressed curiosity about Djokovic's vaccination status. The 20-time Major champion, however, believes that people are crossing boundaries by asking such questions.
Djokovic also claimed that media houses spin words out of context to create controversy out of nothing.
"Too many people today allow themselves such freedom to ask things and condemn a person," Djokovic said. "Whatever you answer: 'Yes, I didn't, maybe, I don't know, I'm thinking,' they will abuse it."
"The media has become, I have no word how to describe it," he added. "It spreads fear and panic among people, and I don’t want to participate in that rift. I feel that everyone is hostile. I don’t want to give them a reason to write some things about me. Now what I told you, one of your editors can take and make a scandal out of it. I don't want to take part in any storm that is happening right now."
Novak Djokovic then made the surprising revelation that he is unsure whether he will make the trip to Melbourne next year, given the situation around the COVID-19 restrictions.
"I'm telling you sports (Sports Blic), I don't know if I'll go," Djokovic said. "Of course I want to go, Australia is my most successful Grand Slam, I want to participate, I love this sport, I still have motivation, but I said why I have motivation."
Novak Djokovic went on to reiterate his stance towards the 2022 Australian Open, expressing his dismay at the fact that too many people are speculating about his future.
"I still don't know if I will play in Melbourne," Djokovic stressed. "I don't know what my schedule will be. There is too much speculation. The media speculates a lot and that bothered me a lot. I didn't advertise too much because everyone made some assumptions based on what I said a year ago."
According to the Serb, the vaccination status of individuals has caused rifts in society, which he thinks is "scary".
"One and the same thing is going on and there is a lot of division in the society, not only in sports, but in the whole society, between those who have not been vaccinated and have been vaccinated," Djokovic said. "And that's really scary."
The 2021 Australian Open took place amid a plethora of watertight rules that annoyed a lot of players, including Novak Djokovic. Several players who were found to be in close contact with COVID-positive cases were forced to isolate for 14 days without any training, thus affecting their fitness and making them prone to injuries.
Djokovic highlighted those incidents and called for players to unite so that they can be involved in the decision-making process before such stringent rules are set out for next year's edition.
"The main problem is that if you are on a plane with a person who is positive, whether you are vaccinated or not, you automatically have to go to the room for 14 days," Novak Djokovic said. "That happened to Viktor Troicki in January this year. Not only him, but also 70 players had to be quarantined."
"I talked to a lot of players and that is something that everyone has a bad memory of," he added. "I would like the players to unite a little more, whether through PTPA or something independent or through ATP or WTA, just so that in some way we are relevant in some decision-making process. Now, I feel like the players aren’t wondering about anything at all."
Novak Djokovic then expressed his uncertainty about "what is going on" in Australia, before claiming that the situation is not ideal.
"I don't know if I'm going to Australia, I don't know what's going on," Djokovic said. "Currently, the situation is not good at all."
"The final decision of the Government of Australia and Tennis Australia will be in 2 weeks" - Novak Djokovic
As per the health order announced by the Victorian government, players need to be double vaccinated no later than 26 November. However, Novak Djokovic believes that the Australian Government and Tennis Australia would make a final decision regarding COVID-19 rules around mid-November.
"I am following the situation around Australia and as far as I understand, the final decision of the Government of Australia and Tennis Australia will be in two weeks, so it is the first or second week of November," Djokovic said.
The Serb added that he doesn't think there will be much change from what the situation was at the 2021 Australian Open. Djokovic then revealed that his manager is in touch with the Federation of Australia, who are trying to make things smoother for players this time around - even if they are not vaccinated.
"I do not believe that the conditions will change much in relation to what we already know," Djokovic said. "As was the case this year, there will be plenty of restrictions. What I heard from my manager, who is in direct contact with people from the Federation of Australia, is that they are trying to improve conditions for everyone. Both for those who have been vaccinated and for those who have not."