Novak Djokovic kicks off his 2022 season in Dubai on Monday with the ambition to keep his place as world No. 1, a month after his expulsion from Australia where he could not defend his chances at the first Grand Slam of the year. not being vaccinated against Covid-19.
Since then, Djokovic has rested in Serbia, with his family, and this week he came out of his silence, for the BBC and then Serbian television.
He is not "anti-vax", he made it clear, but wishes to continue to "control what we inject" into his body.
Dubai does not require a vaccine
He also said he was "ready to pay the price" for his convictions even if it would cost him his participation in the three other major tournaments this season, namely Roland-Garros (May 22-June 5), Wimbledon (June 27- July 10), the US Open (August 29-September 11), and de facto the race for the record.
"We all hope that the health crisis will evolve in a positive direction, but if that does not change, we will need a vaccine pass and therefore Novak Djokovic will not be with us" at Roland-Garros, said French Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu, at the microphone of RTL on Sunday.
In Dubai, the world No.1 can participate in the tournament because a coronavirus vaccine is not mandatory to enter the Emirates, where 895 new cases were announced on Thursday.
“Knowing that I was coming to Dubai, I had something to prepare, I had a goal.
So now that I'm here, I can say that I'm as well prepared as possible and that I'm excited to play on the circuit again", said "Djoko", in search of a sixth title in Dubai, during a press conference on Sunday.
The Medvedev threat
After Dubai, he is on the entry list for the Indian Wells Masters 1000 (March 7-20), in the Californian desert.
But he does not have the right to enter American territory without being vaccinated.
"I can't really choose right now.
It's really about where I can go and play.
Wherever an opportunity arises, I will probably use it and go play because it's always what I like to do, "said the world No.1.
Monday, Djokovic will find the young Lorenzo Musetti (19 years old, 57th in the world) who had given him a hard time in June in his quest for a second trophy at Roland-Garros.
During the round of 16 in Paris, the Serbian champion had lost the first two sets before reversing the trend then Musetti had finally given up in the fifth set (6-7 (7/9), 6-7 (2/7) , 6-1, 6-0, 4-0).
For Djokovic, the challenge will also be to keep the chair of king of the ATP that the world No. 2, the Russian Daniil Medvedev, engaged in the Acapulco tournament, can delight him at the end of the week.
The finalist of the last Australian Open can climb to the top if he wins the title in Mexico regardless of the result of "Djoko" in the Emirates.
"If it happens this week, I will be the first to congratulate him," Djokovic said of the Russian.
Coronavirus: Novak Djokovic does not give up on the vaccine, "ready to pay the price" of not playing Roland-Garros
The Monte-Carlo tournament will be "delighted to welcome Novak Djokovic, if he is in good standing"
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