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Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic will need to be vaccinated to play Australian Open: minister


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Published on October 21, 2021 11:11 AM
 
ennis Australia, which organizes the grand slam, said it was working with authorities on conditions for players, fans and tournament staff. More than a third of professional players remain unvaccinated, according to recent media reports.
 
Novak Djokovic will not be able to enter Australia to defend his Australian Open title unless he is fully vaccinated for Covid-19, the country's immigration minister said on Wednesday, putting the Serb's grand slam record bid in doubt.

World number one Djokovic, who is level with Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal on 20 grand slam titles, has declined to reveal his vaccination status, and said he is unsure if he will defend his Australian Open crown.

Clarifying Australia's visa requirements, Minister for Immigration Alex Hawke said foreign players would need to have had two vaccination shots to play the grand slam at Melbourne Park in January.

"You'll need to be double vaccinated to visit Australia. That's a universal application, not just to tennis players. I mean that every visitor to Australia will need to be double vaccinated," Hawke told Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio.

"I don't have a message to Novak. I have a message to everybody that wishes to visit Australia. He'll need to be double vaccinated."

Apart from Serbian Djokovic, who has won nine of...

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic ; born 22 May 1987) is a Serbian professional tennis player. He is currently ranked as world No. 1 by the Association of Tennis Professionals. Djokovic has been No. 1 for a record total of 343 weeks, and has finished as ATP year-end No. 1 on a joint-record six occasions. He has won an all-time joint record 20 Grand Slam men's singles titles. Overall, he has won 85 ATP singles titles, including a record nine Australian Open titles and a joint record 36 Masters events. Djokovic is the only man in the Open Era to achieve a double career Grand Slam and complete a non-calendar year Grand Slam. He is also the only player to complete the career Golden Masters on the ATP Tour, which he has done twice.

Djokovic began his professional career in 2003. At age 20, he interrupted Roger Federer's and Rafael Nadal's streak of 11 consecutive majors to win his first Grand Slam title at the 2008 Australian Open. By 2010, Djokovic also separated himself from the rest of men's tennis to join Federer and Nadal in the Big Three, the group of three players who have dominated men's tennis for more than a decade. In 2011, Djokovic was ranked No. 1 for the first time, winning three out of four majors and a then-season record of five Masters events. He remained the best player in men's tennis for the rest of the decade, leading the tour in major and Masters's titles, and winning four out of his five titles at the ATP Finals consecutively from 2012 through 2015. After four consecutive year-end finishes at No. 3 through 2010, Djokovic finished No. 1 for six years and No. 2 for three years in the next decade.

Djokovic had another career year in 2015, reaching fifteen consecutive finals, including all four major finals and eight Masters finals, winning three majors and a season-record of six Masters events as well as the ATP Finals. The following year, he won the 2016 French Open to complete the first and only non-calendar year Grand Slam in the Open Era and his first career Grand Slam. He became the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four major titles at once and the only one in history to do so on three different surfaces. In 2021, Djokovic won the French Open and became the first man in the Open Era to achieve the career Grand Slam twice.

Representing Serbia, Djokovic led the Serbian national team to their first Davis Cup title in 2010 and to the inaugural ATP Cup title in 2020. Moreover, he won the bronze medal for Serbia at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Djokovic has won the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award four times and he is a recipient of the Order of St. Sava, the Order of Karadorde's Star, and the Order of the Republika Srpska. Beyond competition, Djokovic was the former ATP player council president and is also an active philanthropist. In August 2020, Djokovic and Vasek Pospisil announced the formation of the Professional Tennis Players Association as the first player-only association in tennis, citing the need for players to have more influence on the tour and advocating for better prize money structure for lower ranked players.

Early and personal life

Novak Djokovic was born on 22 May 1987 in Belgrade, SR Serbia, SFR Yugoslavia, to Srdan and Dijana Ðokovic. He is of paternal Serbian and maternal Croatian descent. His two younger brothers, Marko and Djordje, have also played professional tennis.

As a young child, Djokovic was given a mini-racket and a soft foam ball, by his parents, which his father claimed, became 'the most beloved toy in his life'.

Djokovic began playing tennis at the age of four, when his parents sent him to a tennis camp in Novi Sad, as his parents had not played any tennis in the past. In the summer of 1993, before attending primary school, the six-year-old was sent to a tennis camp organized by the Teniski Klub Partizan and overseen by Yugoslav tennis player Jelena Gencic, at Mount Kopaonik, where Djokovic's parents ran a fast-food parlour and a sports equipment business. Upon seeing the child Djokovic playing tennis, she stated: 'This is the greatest talent I have seen since Monica Seles.'

Gencic worked with young Djokovic over the following six years before realizing that, due to his rapid development, going abroad in search of increased level of competition was the best option for his future. To that end, she contacted Nikola Pilic and in September 1999 the 12-year-old moved to the Pilic tennis academy in Oberschleißheim, Germany, spending four years there. At the age of 14, he began his international career, winning European championships in singles, doubles, and team competition. A resident of Monte Carlo, Djokovic has been coached by former Slovak tennis player Marián Vajda beginning in 2006, until Boris Becker took over the role of his head coach in December 2013. Becker and Djokovic officially ended their cooperation in December 2016.

Djokovic is a self-described fan of languages, speaking Serbian, English, French, German, and Italian. He met his future wife, Jelena Ristic, in high school, and began dating her in 2005. The two became engaged in September 2013, and on 10 July 2014 the couple got married on Sveti Stefan in Montenegro, while a church wedding was held in the same place, on 12 July 2014, in the Church of Saint Stephen which belongs to Praskvica Monastery. On 24 April 2014, Djokovic announced that he and Ristic were expecting their first child. Their son was born in 2014. Their daughter was born in 2017.

Legacy

Djokovic is widely considered to be the greatest tennis player of all time. Some observers, tennis players and coaches describe Djokovic as the greatest of all time because he won the trophies with victories against the top players and the biggest rivals in one of the strongest eras of tennis. Currently, Djokovic leads the head-to-head record against all members of the Big Three and he has the highest number of Slams won beating a Big Three member en route. Furthermore, he beat on average higher-ranked players on the way to the Grand Slam trophies than Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Pat Cash emphasized that Djokovic is one of two players who beat Rafael Nadal at the French Open, which he considers to be 'the biggest challenge in tennis'.

Richard Krajicek and The Roar, sports opinion website, said that Djokovic should be considered for the greatest player of all time because he is the only one among his greatest rivals who has won four Grand Slams in a row. Following the 2021 Wimbledon Championships, Andrew Castle said that Djokovic has already surpassed Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as the greatest because he is the only one of the trio who has won each of the grand slams more than once. Patrick Mouratoglou stated "Novak is the most complete player of all times. That enables him to find the solution to most of the problems on court and this, on every surface. It explains why he is now in the best position to become the GOAT'.

Djokovic is widely considered to be the greatest returner in the history of the sport, an accolade given to him even by Andre Agassi, who was considered to be the best returner ever. Though staying clear of best ever conversations, tennis coach Nick Bollettieri has continually been praising Djokovic as the 'most complete player ever' and the 'most perfect player of all time': When you look at match players in the history of tennis, I don't believe that anybody can equal everything on the court that Djokovic does. I don't think you can find a weakness in his game. His movement, personality, his return of serve, his serve, excellent touch, not hesitant in coming to the net, great serve. Overall, almost every player has a downfall; to me, he doesn't have one. He's perhaps the best put-together player that I've seen over 60 years.

Tennis pundits have classified many of Djokovic's matches as some of the greatest contests ever, with the 2012 Australian Open final being considered one of the greatest matches ever seen. Some longtime analysts claim that the Djokovic–Nadal rivalry ranks as the best rivalry in tennis history primarily because of the quality of matches they produce.

Playing style and equipment

Djokovic is an aggressive baseline player. His groundstrokes from both wings are consistent, deep, and penetrating. His backhand is widely regarded as one of the best in today's game, due to its effectiveness on both sides of the court. His best shot is his backhand down the line, with great pace and precision. He excels at returning serve in particular, and regularly ranks among the tour leaders in return points, return games, and break points won. After great technical difficulties during the 2009 season, his serve is one of his major weapons again, winning him many free points; his first serve is typically hit flat, while he prefers to slice and kick his second serves wide. He has also led the ATP Tour in their career 'Under Pressure Rating' statistic, in part because of his prowess at winning deciding sets.

Djokovic has been described as one of the fittest and most complete athletes in sports history, with high agility, court coverage and mobility, which allows him to hit winners from seemingly indefensible positions. Because of this, coupled with flexibility and length, he rarely gets aced. Todd Martin, who coached Djokovic between 2009 and 2010, noted that:

His athleticism is from another world. His return of serve is way better than any other return of serve ever and I mean way better. Nobody has gotten so many balls back and neutralized so many good serves.

Djokovic's return of serve is a powerful weapon for him, with which he can be both offensive and defensive. He is highly efficient off both the forehand and backhand return, often getting the return in play deep with pace, neutralizing the advantage the server usually has in a point. John McEnroe considers Djokovic to be the greatest returner of serve in the history of the men's game. Occasionally, Djokovic employs a well-disguised backhand underspin drop shot and sliced backhand. His smash is considered to be one of his biggest weaknesses, being prone to making mistakes on the shot in big moments such as the 2008 Olympics.

Djokovic commented on the modern style of play, including his own, in an interview with Jim Courier after his semi-final win against Andy Murray in the 2012 Australian Open tournament:

I had a big privilege and honour to meet personally today Mr. Laver, and he is one of the biggest, and greatest players ever to play the game, thank you for staying this late, sir, thank you... even though it would actually be better if we played a couple times serve and volley, but we don't know to play... we are mostly around here, we are running, you know, around the baseline...

Entering the pro circuit, Djokovic used the Head Liquidmetal Radical, but changed sponsors to Wilson in 2005. He couldn't find a Wilson racquet he liked, so Wilson agreed to make him a custom racquet to match his previous one with Head. After the 2008 season, Djokovic re-signed with Head, and debuted a new paint job of the Head YouTek Speed Pro at the 2009 Australian Open. He then switched to the Head YouTek IG Speed paint job in 2011, and in 2013, he again updated his paint job to the Head Graphene Speed Pro, which included an extensive promotional campaign. Djokovic uses a hybrid of Head Natural Gut in the mains and Luxilon Big Banger ALU Power Rough in the crosses. He also uses Head Synthetic Leather Grip as a replacement grip. In 2012, Djokovic appeared in a television commercial with Maria Sharapova promoting the use of Head rackets for many techniques such as golf and ten-pin bowling.

In assessing Djokovic's 2011 season, Jimmy Connors said that Djokovic gives his opponents problems by playing 'a little bit old-school, taking the ball earlier, catching the ball on the rise, driving the ball flat.' Connors adds that a lot of the topspin that Djokovic's opponents drive at him comes right into his zone, thus his ability to turn defense into offense well.

Views on diet and vaccination

Since 2010, he has been connected with the nutritionist Igor Cetojevic who additionally focuses on Chinese medicine and does acupuncture. He allegedly discovered that Djokovic suffers from gluten intolerance, using applied kinesiology, and that he cannot eat gluten, purging it from his diet. He eventually settled on a vegan diet, while later sometimes eating fish. He also claims this vegan, plant-based diet cured his persistent allergies and mild asthma.

Following the elbow surgery in 2018, he stated that he tried to avoid the operation and that 'he cried for three days' after it, feeling guilty.

During the ATP Tour's shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in a Facebook live stream with other Serbian athletes, Djokovic said that he opposes vaccination, and that he wouldn't want to be forced to take a vaccine in order to be able to return to the ?our. Djokovic later clarified his remarks by stating that he is not specifically against all kinds of vaccines, but that he is against forced vaccinations that use certain specific vaccines that he may not want, and that he prefers vaccines that have few side effects. He also admitted that he was not an expert on vaccines, and that people who are currently in the field of medicine know more about vaccines.