Novak Djokovic will get his 2022 season underway on Monday at the Dubai Duty Free Championships. The Serb is playing for the first time since December last year after he was banned from competing in Australia in January owing to his decision to remain unvaccinated.
The world number one, who will begin his campaign in Dubai against Lorenzo Musetti, says that he will play at any tournament that will have him. The Covid-19 vaccine rules could see Djokovic miss more tournaments this year, but the Serb is ready find tournaments that do not have any restrictions even if it means not playing a full schedule in 2022.
“I will have to follow the rules,” Djokovic said, as quoted by the Daily Mail. “Whatever tournament I’m able to play I will be trying to get to the country and play the tournament.”
“I really can’t choose right now, it’s about where I can go and play,” he added. “I’m not intending to play a full schedule but also that wasn’t my intention prior to this season.”
Djokovic endured a difficult time in Australia after failing to convince Australian authorities that he would not be a threat to the public as his presence could incite anti-vaccination sentiment. The 34-year-old had his visa cancelled twice, and spent time in detention before being deported on the eve of the 2022 Australian Open.
The 20-time men’s singles Grand Slam champion was unable to defend his title in Melbourne, and could find it difficult to play many other major tournaments during the year with governments imposing the compulsory vaccination rule. Djokovic is not overly concerned and admitted recently that he is ready to skip the French Open and Wimbledon in order to maintain his right to choose.
“Yes, that is the price that I’m willing to pay,” Djokovic told the BBC’s Amol Rajan in an exclusive interview when asked if he was willing to skip playing at Ronald Garros and Wimbledon.
“I was never against vaccination,” he said, confirming that he’d had vaccines as a child, “but I’ve always supported the freedom to choose what you put in your body.”