After the debacle that was his attempted Australian Open campaign, Novak Djokovic has reportedly changed his tune on vaccinations.
Reports have emerged claiming Novak Djokovic’s biographer believes the tennis star is going to get vaccinated.
Author Daniel Muksch — who has written A Lifetime of War, a book chronicling the journey of the 20-time grand slam champion that comes out later this year — suggested watching Rafael Nadal win a historic 21st major is what may convince Djokovic to get the jab.
“From what I have heard from those around him, I think he is getting vaccinated,” Muksch reportedly said on Austrian TV station Servus TV.
“Maybe the final in Melbourne also contributed to that. Rafael Nadal’s 21 is driving him, no question.”
Djokovic arrived in Melbourne in early January but was deported ahead of the Australian Open after the Federal Court upheld Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s decision to cancel his visa.
Djokovic is unvaccinated but he and Tennis Australia believed the Serbian was eligible for a medical exemption to enter the country and compete, because he had been infected with Covid-19 in December.
However, there was plenty of confusion about whether contracting the virus within the past six months was valid grounds to avoid vaccination and receive an exemption.
A furious backlash erupted when news of Djokovic’s exemption was made public via an Instagram post and he was detained at Tullamarine Airport upon arrival, then subsequently spent time in hotel detention as his legal challenges to stay in Australia fell through.
Meanwhile, Djokovic’s Covid tests submitted to Australian officials last month were legitimate, Serbian authorities said on Thursday, after a string of media reports questioned the authenticity of the documents.
Serbia’s prosecutor’s office said there was no evidence suggesting the tests had been manipulated, according to an inquiry by the country’s health ministry.
“It was established that Novak Djokovic was tested multiple times and the … test results from December 16 and December 22 were valid,” read the statement from the office.
The statement came just days after the BBC published a report casting “doubt” over the tests, suggesting the serial number on the documents were out of sequence with others from roughly the same period.
Serbian officials have not responded directly to the allegations levied by the BBC and other news outlets who have raised similar questions.
Djokovic’s deportation meant he was unable to challenge for a 10th Australian Open crown and push ahead of Nadal and Roger Federer on the list of all-time men’s major winners. The Big Three were level on 20 grand slams each at the start of the year before Nadal took the outright lead when he beat Daniil Medvedev in a thrilling five-set final.
But the Spaniard — who is eyeing another trophy at his favoured French Open in May — doesn’t believe 21 grand slams will be enough to keep the record forever.
“I have no idea what number of grand slams I will have,” Nadal said at a press conference at his academy in Mallorca.
“Not long ago I would have signed for just being able to play tennis again.
“I want to be the one with the most majors out of the three of us, I would love that, but I’m not obsessed, absolutely not.
“Whatever comes is welcome and I don’t think 21 is enough to be honest. But you never know what will happen in the future.”
Djokovic has made no secret of his desire to win the most majors of any male tennis player in history and will be desperate to overtake Nadal. However, uncertainty remains over his eligibility for future majors in Paris, London and New York if he chooses not to get vaccinated.
Despite missing the Australian Open, Djokovic remained world number one in the rankings released earlier this week and extended his record-breaking run in the top spot to 358 weeks.
Since returning from Down Under last month, Djokovic has kept a relatively low profile, making just a handful of public appearances.
On Friday, Djokovic is scheduled to meet Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade where he is expected to make a brief public address.