Novak Djokovic tournament ban has ‘huge impact’ with ATP boss making vaccine plea

Djokovic arrives in Serbia after deportation from Australia

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ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi has spoken out on Novak Djokovic’s vaccination status as the world No 2 continues to miss tournaments because he hasn’t received the jab. The Serb only started his season last week in Dubai and will be forced to miss the Masters 1000s in Indian Wells and Miami this month without being vaccinated.

Djokovic’s vaccination status has drawn controversy in recent months..

The world No 2 first hit headlines when he arrived in Melbourne unvaccinated with a medical exemption granted by Tennis Australia, when all foreign nationals in the country required full vaccination.

After having his visa cancelled twice, the nine-time Aussie Open champion was eventually deported on the eve of the tournament as the country’s Immigration Minister and Federal Court thought his presence would “excite anti-vax sentiment”.

The 11-day saga which saw Djokovic in and out of a government detention hotel, even being allowed to practice in Melbourne Park during some of his time Down Under, was accused of taking away from the tennis in the days leading up to the tournament.

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In the weeks after the Australian Open, the 20-time Grand Slam champion gave his first in-depth interview about the situation to the BBC, standing by his decision not to get the vaccine and admitting he would miss the likes of the French Open and Wimbledon if they required it.”

“Yes, that is the price that I’m willing to pay because the principles of decision making on my body are more important than any title or anything else,” he said.

The Serb has only been able to play one tournament so far this season, last week’s Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, and will now sit out the ‘Sunshine Double’ of Masters tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami this month over the United States’ vaccination requirements for travellers.

In the midst of the vaccine drama, the ATP chairman has issued a plea for the world No 2 to get vaccinated after explaining his “impact” on men’s tennis.

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“My wish is to see Novak healthy and happy on tour,” Gaudenzi told Spox.

“As one of our greatest champions, he has a huge impact on every event he plays.”

While Djokovic has now been offered some relief after France’s Prime Minister confirmed their vaccine pass rules would be dropped, allowing the Serb to compete in the French Open and Monte Carlo Masters, the ATP boss still recommended Djokovic get vaccinated.

The former world No 18 said: “At the moment it’s a shame that his vaccination status seems to be preventing him that he can be in certain tournaments.

“For our part, we can only continue to emphasize that we recommend the vaccination to all our players.”

Djokovic is now next expected to play in April, when the Monte Carlo Masters begin.

He was originally set to miss the event despite being a resident of Monaco over France’s vaccine pass rules which banned unvaccinated people from entering sports venues.

Last month, tournament director Zeljko Franulovic said: “If he meets the health requirements of the French government, we will be happy to host him.”

And with no need to be vaccinated from March 14, the two-time Monte Carlo champion will most likely be back in action on the clay-courts from April 9.

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