Serbian tennis player Dusan Lajovic said he's not sure whether Novak Djokovic will play the Australian Open 2021 and he and other teammates don't know the reason why the World No.1 pulled out of the ATP Cup. (More Tennis News)
Djokovic would be bidding for a men's-record 21st Grand Slam title and a 10th Australian Open crown at Melbourne Park beginning January 17.
The 34-year-old Djokovic is on the entry list but has yet to commit to the Australian Open 2022 following the COVID-19 vaccination mandate agreed to by Tennis Australia and the Victorian (state) Department of Health.
Djokovic has repeatedly refused to disclose whether or not he is vaccinated, citing privacy concerns. All spectators, staff and players at the Australian Open 2022 must be double-vaccinated or have a medical exemption.
Lajovic, the late call-up to replace the Djokovic, said he and his team were unsure of the No. 1-ranked player's participation in Melbourne. “He kept in touch with all of us and it was a last-minute decision, the Australian Open is still uncertain, I don't know the information,” Lajovic said Thursday.
“I think that will come in the next couple of days or whenever is the deadline. We don't know right now, but hopefully, he'll be there and be able to play the Grand Slam.”
Lajovic said Djokovic had not disclosed his reasons for skipping Serbia's defense of the ATP Cup. “He said I'm not coming to the ATP Cup, we'll see about the Australian Open,” Lajovic said. “He didn't specify if he's coming or not, (but) that he's waiting for a decision.”
Roger Federer has already confirmed he won't play in Melbourne due to continuing recovery from right knee surgery. Rafael Nadal, who along with Federer and Djokovic has 20 Grand Slam singles titles, is recovering from COVID-19 and said he still hopes to play the Australian Open 2022.
The 16-team ATP Cup begins Saturday at two Sydney stadiums. ATP Cup organizers disclosed Djokovic's withdrawal in a roster update that included France replacing Austria in the event following the withdrawals of Dominic Thiem and Dennis Novak.
Fifth-ranked Andrey Rublev of Russia also pulled out, as did teammates Aslan Karatsev and Evgeny Donskoy. Serbia play Norway on Saturday. Also Chile play Spain, Argentina take on Georgia and Greece play Poland.
The other eight teams begin play Sunday: Russia vs France, Italy vs Australia, Canada vs the United States and Germany vs Britain.