Novak Djokovic has made a U-turn on his anti-vaccination stance if his biographer Daniel Muksch is to be believed. According to Muksch, the world number one has been forced to consider taking the jab against Covid-19 in order to chase Rafael Nadal’s Grand Slam record and to keep his world ranking.
Nadal won the 2022 Australian Open last Sunday, making him the first man to win 21 singles Grand Slam titles. That puts the Spaniard ahead of both Djokovic and Roger Federer, who are currently tied with 20 titles each. Federer missed the event due to injury, but Djokovic was ready to compete. However, he was forced to skip the event after being deported out of Australia.
The Serb had sought a medical exemption to enter Australia despite being unvaccinated. However, his visa was cancelled by the Australian Border Force after he failed to give sufficient evidence that he was eligible for the exemption. He had tried to enter on the premise that he had a recent Covid-19 infection (December 16), making him protected as much as fully vaccinated people.
After a legal battle that revealed he had entered false information in his travel declaration forms and that he had been out and about in Europe despite knowing that he was Covid positive, he was eventually deported.
“From what I have heard from those around him, I think he is getting vaccinated,” Muksch told Heute, as quoted by Marca. He further claimed that it was Nadal’s victory that finally pushed Djokovic to make the decision. “Perhaps the Australian final has contributed [to that decision]. It may be that Nadal’s 21 Grand Slams is driving him to do so,” he added.
The next Grand Slam will be the French Open, and Nadal is always the favourite at Roland Garros. The French government has already declared a strong stance against allowing unvaccinated individuals to enter, and Djokovic is in danger of being denied entry once more. In this case, Nadal has a strong chance of widening the gap to his closest rivals.
Djokovic is not only in danger of losing out on the Grand Slam race. He may also lose his top world ranking if he continues to miss tournaments. He last played back on December 3 in the Davis Cup, and may be forced to miss more ranking events if he continues to refuse vaccination against Covid-19.
He is entered to join the Dubai Open, which starts on February 21. It remains to be seen if he would have been jabbed by then. He will also be expected to play in the Masters 1,000 events in Indian Wells and Miami. Australian Open runner-up Daniil Medvedev is breathing down his neck in the rankings, and he will need to start playing in the upcoming tournaments if he wants to keep the Russian at bay.