Unvaccinated Players Deserve The Chance To Play Australian Open, Says ATP Council Member John Millman
According to the world No.57, it is estimated that seven in every ten players on the men’s Tour have recieved their COVID-19 jabs.
A top Australian player says he hopes his home Grand Slam will provide an opportunity for all players to participate in next year’s draw regardless of their vaccination status against COVID-19.
John Millman, who states that he is ‘pro vaccination,’ says players who have not been jabbed and are willing to go through quarantine should be given the opportunity to take part in the Australian Open. His comments come amid a dispute between leading political figures over what the rules should be for players arriving at the tournament. Earlier this week Prime Minister Scott Morrison indicated that he would welcome unvaccinated players to play at the Australian Open providing they go through a 14-day quarantine upon arrival. However, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said that he would not be requesting any exceptions for players in relation to a recent health mandate requiring mandatory vaccinations for all key workers, including athletes, in his region.
The ongoing debate on the entry requirements comes less than two months before players usually begin travelling to Australia in order to prepare for the Grand Slam which starts on January 17th. World No.1 Novak Djokovic and US Open champion Daniil Medvedev have both said they do not wish to speak publicly about whether they have received a vaccination or not. The ATP and WTA have previously issued estimates regarding the percentage of their players who have received a vaccination but never reveal their names. So it is unclear as to how many top players could be affected in the coming weeks.
“I’m pro vaccination. I’m all for getting the jab. I’ve had it over here and I’m feeling good,” Millman said on Melbourne radio station 3AW.
“But I do want to see an opportunity for all the players to be able to play tennis, whether that be unvaccinated people having to go in and do the 14 days hard quarantine, like we’ve seen throughout the year – people returning back home who’ve been unvaccinated do. I’d like to see them at least have that opportunity.
“It is encouraging that those who are vaccinated can come in and play the Australian Open, definitely.”
World No.57 Millman is a member of the ATP Players Council alongside the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray. The 32-year-old said the council have been urging their peers to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
“The ATP’s stance is they haven’t made it compulsory for players to get the vaccination, but they’re not going to stand in the way of [the rules set by] governments and local jurisdictions,” he said.
“The men’s tour’s now up around 70 per cent [double dosed] and that number’s going up each day in terms of the guys in the top 100.”
The rise in the vaccination rate isn’t entirely due to the threat posed by the Australian Open. In a leaked email seen by Tennis Majors earlier this week, the ATP has warned that unvaccinated players may find life on the Tour more difficult in 2022. They could be subjected to more tests than those who have been vaccinated and might have to contribute towards the cost. Furthermore, Unvaccinated players who test positive for Covid-19 before an event, or who are deemed a close contact of someone who tests positive – and have to withdraw – will not receive “prize money compensation.”
Despite the uncertainty cast over the Australian Open, Millman remains confident that most leading players will still attend due to the significance of the event.
“I think that they will still come,” he said.
“I can’t speak for them, but I do believe that the majority of players, even if they are unvaccinated, would still come, even if it meant doing the 14 days.
“It’s not ideal. I’ve done that [hard quarantine] before. It is extremely hard to ‘find’ the tennis ball when you come out of it.
“The Australian Open at the end of the day – it is one of the four biggest events that we have. It’s a great opportunity. You don’t get to play grand slams day in, day out. [But with] both the accolades of playing a grand slam and doing well in a grand slam, along with the prize money that’s on offer, I think is a nice caveat.”
It is unclear as to when a final decision on entry requirements will be made. In a recent interview, Djokovic told a Serbian newspaper that he is expecting the rules to be finalised during the first two weeks of November based on the information he has received.
Tennis Australia, who runs the tournament, recently issued a statement saying they are optimistic that they can hold the event ‘as close to pre-pandemic conditions as possible.’ Although they will not have the final say regarding allowing unvaccinated players to attend. That decision will be made by the government.
SuperTennis Granted Rights To US Open Until 2027
SuperTennis will be the home for the US Open in Italy until 2027.
SuperTennis have been given exclusive rights to show the US Open in Italy until 2027 after a new agreement was reached.
The USTA and SportCast reached the agreement as announced in a press release.
SportCast are the Italian Tennis and Padel Federation Group company that manages the SuperTennis TV channel in Italy.
In the press released the USTA confirmed they reached a five year agreement with SportCast for SuperTennis to show the US Open until 2027.
The deal means that SuperTennis will show the best daily matches live and delayed alongside coverage on the SuperTenniX digital platform, which gives FITP members and subscribers access to stream all matches across the two week tournament.
It also means that the US Open joins Wimbledon, Davis Cup and a number of ATP and WTA events to be shown on SuperTennis.
Chief Commercial Officer at the USTA, Kristen Corio, had this to say on today’s announcement, “SuperTennis has proven to be a trusted home for the sport in Italy,” Corio said in the press release.
“With a number of Italian players at the forefront of this rising generation of talent, it’s an exciting time to begin this new partnership and we look forward to working together with SuperTennis to continue growing the audience for the US Open.”
Meanwhile the president of Italian Tennis and Padel Federation, Angelo Binaghi, was delighted with the latest news and talked about the impact it has on Italian tennis, “The Italian Tennis and Padel Federation continues its development policy through the promotion of great tennis in our country, and with the founding of the SuperTennis channel 15 years ago, it brought back the sport of tennis to our dedicated audience,” Binaghi said.
“Alongside providing extensive coverage of Wimbledon, we are now proud to make another tennis Grand Slam available to all Italian tennis fans. The US Open is a tournament that has recently provided some incredible stories, including the historic 2015 US Open final won by Flavia Pennetta over Roberta Vinci.
“The level of access that SuperTennis can provide to its viewers will only contribute to the further promotion of tennis and the increased support of our national tennis players.”
This year’s US Open will take place from the 28th of August until the 10th of September with Iga Swiatek and Carlos Alcaraz looking to defend their titles.
Undeterred Novak Djokovic Hopeful Of US Open Return In 2023
Novak Djokovic says he ‘really wants’ to play at this year’s US Open when it is likely he will be allowed to enter the country.
The 22-time Grand Slam champion is currently unable to enter American territory due to being unvaccinated against COVID-19. All foreign arrivals are required to be vaccinated before travelling to the country under an emergency law implemented to curb the spread of the virus. Although this law is expected to come to an end in May.
Djokovic had attempted to apply for a special exception which would have allowed him to play Masters 1000 events in Indian Wells and Miami but was refused by authorities. Even though he had the backing of the United States Tennis Association (USTA) who pledged their support on social media. Furthermore, American players who are unvaccinated are allowed to play in these events.
Speaking to CNN about his recent absence, a defiant Djokovic has insisted that he has no regrets about not being able to play. The Serbian has said in the past that he didn’t want to have the vaccine as he has concerns about the impact it might have on his body.
“I have no regrets,” Djokovic states. “I’ve learned through life that regrets only hold you back and basically make you live in the past. And I don’t want to do that. I also don’t want to live too much in the future. I want to be as much as in the present moment, but of course think about future, create a better future.”
On Monday Djokovic lost his No.1 ranking to Carlos Alcaraz who won the Indian Wells title. He has held the top spot for a total of 380 weeks so far in his career which is more than any other player – male or female – in the history of the sport.
“I congratulate Alcaraz. He absolutely deserves to come back to No.1,” Djokovic commented.
“It’s a pity that I wasn’t able to play in Indian Wells [and] Miami. I love those tournaments. I had plenty of success there. But at the same time, it is the conscious decision I made and I knew that there is always a possibility that I won’t go.”
Djokovic’s last match on American soil was back in September 2021 when he lost in the final of the US Open to Daniil Medvedev. He is a three-time champion at the Grand Slam and has also contested the final on six other occasions between 2007-2021.
The 35-year-old remains optimistic that he will return to New York later this year as long as the government emergency legislation is lifted.
“I really want to be playing there, want to be there,” Djokovic said. “I actually had in 2021 when I lost in the finals against (Daniil) Medvedev, probably one of the best moments I ever had with the New York crowd. And I’ve been fortunate to win that tournament three times, play many finals. And even though I lost that match, I received a lot of love and appreciation from people and I want to go back and I want to reconnect with the crowd there. So that’s something I’m looking forward to and hopefully it will happen.”
So far this year Djokovic has won two Tour titles in Adelaide and at the Australian Open. Out of 16 matches played, his only loss was to Medvedev at the Dubai Tennis Championships.
Wimbledon Likely To Scrap Ban On Russian Players, Says Two-Time Champion Murray
Andy Murray has told BBC Sport that he understands the ban implemented on Russian and Belarussian players competing at Wimbledon will be lifted this year.
The All England Club, as well as by British LTA, has been under pressure to conduct a u-turn on their policy following the backlash they received last year from both the ATP and WTA. In 2022 Britain became the only country on the Tour to ban players from their events as a result of the war in Ukraine which has claimed thousands of lives. Organisers said their decision to do so was based on advice from their government who voiced concern that Russia could use UK-based events as propaganda.
However, the governing bodies of men’s and women’s tennis condemned the move with both of them issuing fines to the LTA. It has been reported by The Telegraph newspaper that the WTA is willing to halve their $1M fine if athletes from the two nations are allowed to play this year. It has also been reported that officials are contemplating the possibility of requiring these players to sign some sort of contract to say they will not be making political gestures before being allowed to play. However, this has not been publicly confirmed.
Whilst there is yet to be any official statement, Murray appears confident that the ban will be lifted based on what he has heard. Murray, who donated more than £500,000 of his prize money from last season to charities supporting Ukrainian children affected by the war, has previously voiced his opposition to the 2022 ban.
“It’s a really difficult one and I do feel for the players who weren’t able to play last year – but I also understand the situation and why it’s really hard for Wimbledon to make a call on it as well,” Murray told BBC Sport.
“My understanding is that they are going to be allowed to play and I’m not going to be going nuts if that is the case.
“But if Wimbledon went down another route I would be understanding of that.”
Besides their financial penalty, Wimbledon lost their right to award ranking points last year for the first time in history. There have also been concerns that should the ban not be reversed, the rights for some events held in the UK such as Eastbourne could be removed and sold elsewhere.
Under current rules, players from Russia and Belarus are allowed to play on the Tour but only under a neutral status. They are currently suspended from all team competitions such as the Davis Cup.
Murray spoke about Wimbledon to reporters in Indian Wells ahead of his first round clash with Tomas Etcheverry of Argentina. So far this season he has won six out of nine matches played with his best run being to the final of the Qatar Open last month.
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