Australian Open chief Craig Tiley is ‘confident’ Rafa Nadal WILL play in Melbourne despite testing positive for Covid this week… but he offers no guarantees that vaccine sceptic world No 1 Novak Djokovic will feature
- Rafael Nadal tested positive for Covid after returning home to Spain this week
- Australian Open boss Craig Tiley still expects to see Nadal at the Grand Slam
- Vaccine sceptic Novak Djokovic is yet to confirm if he will play in Melbourne
- His participation is in doubt due to strict vaccine requirements in Melbourne
- Tiley concedes he is unsure if the tournament will have its men’s world No 1
Australian Open chief Craig Tiley is confident Rafa Nadal will be at Melbourne Park for next month’s Grand Slam despite testing positive for Covid-19, but he is still uncertain whether Novak Djokovic will be playing.
Nadal caught Covid while playing in an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi last week and the Spaniard said he would make a decision on his future tournaments depending on his ‘evolution’ over the weeks ahead.
‘I’m confident Rafa will be here,’ tournament organiser Tiley said of the 20-time Grand Slam champion at Melbourne Park on Wednesday.
Rafael Nadal (left) and Novak Djokovic’s (right) Australian Open participation is in doubt
Tournament director Craig Tiley is ‘confident’ Nadal will play but remains unsure on Djokovic
‘Players that are testing positive now will complete a period of time until they are no longer infectious and they will be fine.
‘If you are going to test positive and you want to play the Australian Open, your timing would be now.’
Nadal is hopeful of being present in Australia but offered up no guarantees after positive tests for himself and his coach Carlos Moya.
‘The idea is to go there and try my best there in Australia. Being 100 per cent honest, I can’t guarantee it,’ the Spaniard said. ‘I need to speak with my team.
‘It’s more than six months since the last official match. Things are difficult and I accept that.
Nadal had made his return to the court at an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi last week
‘I was able to compete in both matches and even had my chances, so if we put that in perspective it’s a very positive thing.’
Tiley reiterated that all players and staff at the Australian Open would be vaccinated or have a medical exemption granted by an independent panel of experts.
Those requirements have prevented Djokovic, who has declined to disclose whether he is vaccinated, citing privacy, from confirming whether he will bid for a 21st Grand Slam title and a 10th Australian Open crown next month.
Tiley said that as far as he was aware, no players had yet been granted medical exemptions and that it would be up to Djokovic to disclose the grounds on which he gained entry to Australia.
‘If Novak shows up at the Australian Open, he’ll either be vaccinated or he’ll have a medical exemption,’ he added.
‘Medically, he doesn’t talk to anyone about it. I’m not going to ask Novak that, it’s none of my business.
‘I will know that (he fulfils) one of those conditions.’
Djokovic’s participation is in doubt due to issue of strict vaccine requirements in Melbourne
Tiley said that if the world No 1 was going to play for Serbia in the ATP Cup in Sydney in the first week of January then he would be arriving with the first tranche of players next week.
‘We want to have the best players here, I’d love to have Novak here,’ he added. ‘If he meets those conditions then great, if not, it’s disappointing.’
Roger Federer, the other men’s player with 20 Grand Slam titles, and Serena Williams, who has won 23 Grand Slam titles, have already ruled themselves out of the tournament as they continue their recoveries from injury.
Wimbledon finalist Karolina Pliskova (hand injury) is out, men’s world No 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas is another injury doubt, while 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu cited her mental health as the reason not to go.
The spread of the Omicron virus around the world is only complicating a picture already muddied by vexed issue of strict vaccine requirements in Melbourne.
The latest numbers from the WTA Tour say that, as at the end of last week, 85% of the world’s top 100 women are vaccinated.
Tiley also announced that former US Open champion Sam Stosur and her fellow Australians Daria Saville and Maddy Inglis had been granted wildcards for the women’s singles draw at the January 17-30 tournament.
Roger Federer already ruled himself out of the tournament and bosses risk missing Big Three