Medvedev confirms Australian Open participation amid debate over vaccine mandate

By Sports Desk November 09, 2021

Daniil Medvedev has confirmed he will play at the Australian Open next year, as the debate over vaccine mandates continues.

Medvedev was defeated by Novak Djokovic in the final of this year's tournament, though the Russian has gone on to enjoy a brilliant season.

He has won four titles, including his first grand slam, beating Djokovic at the US Open in September to end the latter's pursuit of a clean sweep of the four majors in 2021.

Djokovic and Medvedev met again on Sunday, with the world number one coming out on top to clinch his sixth Paris Masters title and a record 37th triumph at ATP 1000 events.

Medvedev had appeared non-committal about being vaccinated against COVID-19, which is likely to be a requirement for any player wishing to compete at the Australian Open, but he dispelled doubts around his involvement when he tweeted on Tuesday: "See you in January @AustralianOpen."

While Medvedev will be involved in Melbourne, the participation of Djokovic – who is a nine-time Australian Open champion – is not yet known.

The Serbian has previously appeared hesitant over the coronavirus vaccine mandate, though he has not revealed whether he has been vaccinated or not.

Australia has enforced strict measures throughout the pandemic, with Melbourne having been under lockdown on six occasions since March 2020. Indeed, the city only lifted its most recent restrictions towards the end of October.

Athletes arriving in Australia prior to last year's event had to go through a mandatory two-week hotel quarantine.

Despite Australia's vaccination programme gaining momentum, travellers who are not citizens must be able to provide proof of vaccination and a negative PCR test result, while quarantine regulations vary depending on state rules.

Tennis Australia is reportedly still hopeful of securing a deal for unvaccinated players to compete in the tournament, subject to a two-week quarantine, with prime minister Scott Morrison suggesting players could be granted an exemption. 

On Tuesday, though, Victorian premier Daniel Andrews insisted players will have to be vaccinated.

"I'm not going to have people sitting in the grandstands having done the right thing, only to have millionaire players that ought [to] be vaccinated running around the place being essentially at such higher risk of spreading this – getting it and giving it," he said.

Speaking last month, Djokovic said: "I don't know if I'm going to Australia, I don't know what's going on. Currently, the situation is not good at all.

"Of course, I want to go, Australia is my most successful grand slam, I want to participate, I love this sport, I still have motivation."

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    Canada have reported five COVID-19 cases among their Winter Olympics delegation in Beijing.

    The names of those infected have not been released, nor has it been specified whether those affected are athletes or support staff, or a combination of those.

    The Beijing 2022 opening ceremony takes place on Friday, February 4, although curling begins two days earlier and freestyle skiing and ice hockey start on the eve of the Games.

    The Canadian Olympic Committee said in a statement: "Currently five out of the 246 members of the Team Canada delegation in Beijing are in COVID-19 protocols.

    "We are following the Beijing 2022 playbook rules. Part of our strategy was to arrive early to allow time for confirmation testing and, if necessary, the medical expert panel process to unfold.

    "Because there will likely be persistent shedders among the delegation, we will not be sharing names at this time. Members of Team Canada's delegation include athletes, coaches and mission team."

    Persistent shedders are those who have recovered from having the coronavirus and may no longer be contagious, but who still have remnants of the virus in their system.

    The Beijing Games playbook for athletes is their guide to the Games, and it outlines COVID-19 rules, with those that test positive to be taken to a designated hospital if symptomatic, or to an isolation facility if showing no outward signs of the virus.

    Canada has a rich tradition of success at the Winter Olympics, finishing third on the medal table at the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

    The news comes a day after Norway's reigning Winter Olympics skiathlon champion Simen Hegstad Kruger was revealed to have tested positive.

  • Australian Open: 'I was out of my mind' – Medvedev explains extraordinary umpire rant Australian Open: 'I was out of my mind' – Medvedev explains extraordinary umpire rant

    Daniil Medvedev conceded he was out of his mind when he embarked on an extraordinary rant at the chair umpire during his Australian Open win over Stefanos Tsitsipas.

    The Russian, who came from two sets down to see off Felix Auger-Aliassime in the last round, roared into a second consecutive Melbourne final as he downed Tsitsipas in a fiery last-four showdown.

    Medvedev ultimately triumphed 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 6-4 6-1 to set up a final with Rafael Nadal but it was a contest in which tempers frayed, mostly on US Open champion's side of the net.

    Second seed Medvedev felt Tsitsipas' father was coaching from the sidelines and received a warning for his persistent complaining.

    He stopped short of accusing Tsitsipas of cheating but explained his mindset at length in the post-match news conference.

    Medvedev said: "Cheating, not at all. First of all I got broken - I got a little bit mad. I thought the referee could do a little bit better with the crowd, just to say, 'Quiet please', or something like this. 

    "Didn't see him doing that often and I made a terrible double fault, got a code when I was just showing everybody that I'm cramping.

    "I cannot toss the ball with my left hand because everybody's screaming, so my serve was terrible.

    "To be honest, before every return his father was talking Greek. I don't know, maybe he's saying, 'Come on, come on', there is no problem.

    "But then the referee, I asked him if he can talk. He said he can talk but he can't coach. Then I said, 'Do you speak Greek?' 

    "If not, the guy is talking, talking, talking. I don't know what he says, but if it's a coach - I don't consider coaching as cheating but it should be a code violation. Then second one would be a bit tricky."

    Medvedev branded the umpire "a small cat" in his astonishing on-court outburst.

    He added: "You guys are laughing, so I think we can say it was funny, but I was definitely out of my mind. I was not controlling myself anymore about anything.

    "That's actually why I'm really happy to win. Many matches like this I would go on to do mistakes - you lose your concentration with things in the heat of the moment. I'm so happy that I managed to catch it really fast."

    Medvedev often feels regret after his outbursts, but concedes they sometimes give him the fuel to win.

    "I regret it all the time, because I don't think it's nice." he said. "I know that every referee is trying to do their best.

    "In tennis we don't fight with the fists but tennis is a fight. It's a one-on-one against another player. 

    "So I'm actually really respectful to players who never, almost never show their emotions because it's tough, I can get really emotional. 

    "I have been working on it. So many matches I handle it. If we look back at myself five years ago when I started playing, just started playing, there was less attention on me, but I was just insanely crazy.

    "I'm working on it. Helps me to win matches, I know. So I do regret it 100 per cent, but again, in the heat of the moment, I just lost it."

    Tsitsipas suggested the Russian was lacking in maturity, saying about the rant: "Well, it's for sure funny!

    "It's funny. I don't pay attention to the stuff. I know players like to do this stuff to throw you off mentally. Could be maybe a tactic? It is all right, he is not the most mature person anyways."

    Of the allegation he received coaching, Tsitsipas replied: "I wasn't - you saw me the other day, losing the score twice in two of my matches. I cannot hear anything when I'm playing. 

    "It's impossible. Having the crowd being so loud in every single point, you have to have super hearing to be able to hear what your coach says.

    "I'm used to it. They've been targeting me already a long time. The umpires are always paying attention to my box, never paying attention to the opponent's box. 

    "Last thing I want is someone giving me tips and giving me advice on what I should do. I'm not the kind of person that would try and listen when out there competing, playing. In practice, maybe."

    But Medvedev was reluctant to get into a war of words with Tsitsipas.

    He said: "No, I don't want to get too much into this, because again, it was nothing against Stefanos, nothing during this match and I feel like I didn't talk about him. 

    "I just talked about the rule, because again, I don't know what his father is saying. Maybe he's just saying, 'Let's go next point'. It's completely allowed. 

    "I don't know Greek. Same about the umpire. He should just, I don't know, talk to Stefanos first maybe, [tell him to] say something to your father. 

    "If my coach would be talking in French to me before every point, even I would say, 'Stop it. It's not allowed'. So it was only about this."

    Tsitsipas revealed he had regularly discussed the topic with his father and ultimately believes coaching should be legalised.

    He added: "My father, look, he's a person that when he gets into something when there is a lot of action, his medicine is to talk, and you can't stop it. It's something that he does from nature.

    "I've tried, spent countless hours trying to figure it out with him, but it's part of him. 

    "Last year I went out publicly on one of my social media platforms and said that I think coaching should be allowed, simply because coaches do it anyways. 

    "Most of them get away with it, and they do it pretty smartly, I can tell you."

  • Australian Open: As Nadal bids to turn 21, Medvedev plots to stop 'perfect guy' taking grand slam lead Australian Open: As Nadal bids to turn 21, Medvedev plots to stop 'perfect guy' taking grand slam lead

    Daniil Medvedev described the three-man battle for grand slam history as "their thing, not mine" as he set his sights on denying Rafael Nadal a 21st major in Sunday's Australian Open final.

    Russian Medvedev is the 6ft 6in obstacle blocking the route to history once again, just as he was at the US Open last September when he prevented Novak Djokovic becoming the first man to 21 and crushed the Serbian's hope of a first calendar sweep of the men's singles slams since Rod Laver's 1969 feat.

    At the age of 25, Medvedev is 10 years Nadal's junior, and he has an awful long way to go before he is revered to the same degree as the 'Big Three' of Nadal, Djokovic and Roger Federer.

    But Medvedev is asserting himself as the leader of the pack that will drive the men's game forward over the next decade, and he will be fancied by many to topple Nadal this weekend in Melbourne.

    This will be his fourth slam final, after losing a marathon five-set tussle against Nadal at the 2019 US Open, being beaten ruthlessly by Djokovic in the Australian Open last year, and then storming to glory in New York.

    Asked about the fact he has always faced elite opposition in his finals, Medvedev said: "They are really strong, huh? It's really tough to get into the final, and I always have them there waiting for me.

    "But it's fun. When I was like eight, 10 years old I was playing against the wall and I was imagining that it's Rafa on the other side, or Roger. Novak was still not yet there, I think.

    "Now I have the chance to play him [in a major final] for a second time. The first one was a close one, an epic one. I need to show my best, because that's what I took from the three finals that I had before, that you have to do better than 100 per cent in order to win. That's what I managed to do in the US Open. That's what I'm going to try to do on Sunday."

    Medvedev, who beat Stefanos Tsitsipas in four sets in their semi-final on Friday, says Nadal's pursuit of the all-time men's grand slam record would not impact upon his own game.

    "I'll be honest, on me it doesn't [have an effect]," Medvedev said. "It's not me going for the 21st, not me trying to break these records.

    "I'm going for my second one. I'm still far from all these things. I'm just trying to focus on myself, doing my job.

    "I'm not lying, I know what's happening, I know what Rafa is going for, I knew what Novak was going for. But it's kind of their thing, not mine. I'm just there to try to win the final."

    It is clear Medvedev, a fiery character, has enormous respect for Nadal's ability to hold back from letting his own feisty emotions boil over.

    "We know what Rafa's mentality in life is like. I don't know if I should call it this way, but he's like a perfect guy," Medvedev told a news conference.

    World number two Medvedev will be attempting to become the first man in the Open Era to follow his maiden grand slam singles title with another at the next major. He said it would be a "great battle" against Nadal, and Medvedev, who predicted Djokovic would be keeping a close eye on the match, would be happy to disrupt the fairy tale narrative.

    The ever-popular Nadal is coming back from a foot injury and has surpassed most expectations by sweeping through the draw, chasing his second Australian Open title but first since 2009, when he beat Federer.

    "They are the three biggest players in the world: Novak, Rafa, Roger," Medvedev said. "All have done amazing, amazing records.

    "Some of them have more records in total. They have all the same slams. Somebody has more Davis Cup titles, somebody has more Roland Garros, Australian Open, whatever.

    "Rafa, especially what he's done at Roland Garros [winning 13 French Open titles], I really doubt somebody could ever beat this. But on the other ones, he's really strong also. I think it's going to be a debate for 20 years to come, no matter even who has the most slams, who of them was better. I want to say, they're all amazing."

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