Novak Djokovic US Open 2021

Novak Djokovic ‘won’t be greeted like a world no.1’ in Australia says ATP star

Pierre-Hugues Herbert “would not like to be in Novak Djokovic’s place” after it was announced that Djokovic was granted a medical exemption for the Australian Open.

French doubles player Herbert recently revealed that he would miss the Australian Open due to not being vaccinated against Covid-19. This made him the first player to officially withdraw as a result of his vaccination stance.

In November, it was announced by Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley that if players wish to compete at the first Grand Slam of the season, they will be required to be fully vaccinated.

This left 20-time Grand Slam champion and World number one Djokovic’s participation in doubt for a number of months after he had consistently refused to publicly declare his vaccination status. This decision was also brandished as “blackmail” by Novak’s father Srdjan.

Hopes were boosted when Djokovic was named on both Serbia’s ATP Cup team and the Australian Open entry list. Whilst the Serbian withdrew from the ATP Cup, Djokovic shared through social media that he had been granted a medical exemption and will defend his ‘Happy Slam’ crown.

In an interview with French news outlet L’Equipe, Herbert said “I’m not shocked, nor do I feel wronged. I don’t think he is the only one who has got one [an exemption].

“And I would not like to be in his [Djokovic’s] place when he gets off the flight, because I don’t think he will be greeted like a number one in the world.

“If his exemption was accepted, it was for valid reasons. Having experienced the rigorousness of the Australian Open the previous year, I thought the answer would be negative. And I’m surprised, pleasantly.”

The Frenchman also revealed that he did not apply for a medical exemption of his own. When asked about whether he had applied, he said “no, [as] I didn’t have a valid reason.

“I haven’t yet succeeded in getting myself vaccinated. It’s a debate I have with myself every day.

“[I might be] shooting myself in the foot, but I’m free to refuse to get vaccinated.”

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Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.