Andy Murray practices ahead of Australian Open
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Novak Djokovic has been urged to make a quick announcement on the Australian Open because “there are so many people hanging on his decision”. And former Wimbledon finalist Mark Philippousis has told tournament organisers to go public if the world No.1 remains silent.
The nine-time Australian Open champion is still in Spain with the first Grand Slam of the season – and his chance to win a male record 21st singles title – starting on January 17.
The Serb, 34, will have to be vaccinated or be granted a medical exemption to travel Down Under. Djokovic has refused to disclose if he has been jabbed while Serbian media reports have claimed he is seeking an exemption.
Aussie Philippousis told Code Sports: “It’s disappointing it has taken this long to get clarity on Djokovic’s situation, as complex as it is.
“I respect his position of not wanting to make his medical history public but there are so many people hanging on his decision and I feel they should’ve had an answer by now.
“Not everyone shares Djokovic’s position. I don’t mind telling people that I’m vaccinated but I understand that Novak has a different take to me on that issue.
“I actually have some sympathy for his position of not wanting his medical decisions made public but, whether or not he chooses to reveal his vaccination status, he needs to reveal his Australian Open status.
“And if he doesn’t then the tournament organisers should. They can’t make exceptions for him because he is the No.1 ranked player in the world. The rules are there for everyone.”
Rafa Nadal, who can also win a 21st Grand Slam title, has already arrived Down Under along with most Australian Open competitors. Wildcard Andy Murray will play his first warm-up match in Melbourne on Tuesday morning in Victoria.
Philippousis added: “We’ve also reached the point where his (Djokovic’s) preparation for the tournament is surely being compromised. Most players like to arrive in Australia two, even three week before The Open to acclimatise to the Melbourne summer and courts conditions and really nail their preparation. We’re well inside that timeline now.”
The former world No.8 said he still hoped to see a third Australian Open final between Djokovic and Nadal on January 30.
“That’s the dream scenario,” said Philippousis. “I hope he (Djokovic) plays and I’m sure the other players would want him here, too. Guys like Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev and Nadal know that winning a tournament like the Australian Open isn’t the same unless you win it against the best.
“‘Oh, you won, but Djokovic wasn’t there?’ No one wants that.”
It remains to be seen what the situation is regarding Djokovic, but whatever the case the Australian Open promises to be as fascinating as ever, with the countdown now well and truly on for the tournament to begin in Melbourne.
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