Djokovic urges government 'support' players over Australian Open preparations

RESENDING WITH COMPLETE SCRIPT

VIDEO SHOWS: NOVAK DJOKOVIC AND ALEXANDER ZVEREV SPEAKING ABOUT THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN AT POST-MATCH NEWS CONFERENCES, FILE FOOTAGE OF THE 2020 AUSTRALIAN OPEN CHAMPIONS, NOVAK DJOKOVIC AND SOFIA KENIN

SHOWS:

LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (NOVEMBER 18, 2020) (ATP MEDIA/IMG - NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE.

1. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WORLD NUMBER ONE, NOVAK DJOKOVIC, SAYING:

"There's several options as I hear that are on the table and I think Tennis Australia has been very communicative and very open with the whole process with us players. I'm very pleased with the way Craig Tiley and Andre Sa from Tennis Australia have been trying to, you know, obviously fight for us the best of conditions for the players as it is possible but it's also not in their hands obviously, the government of Australia decides and Victoria on the conditions and restrictions and so forth. As far as I know so far, the Australian Open will happen whether it's in the current week or the week later, as you said. If that's what's necessary then yes I would understand the Australian Open being pushed a week later. Even though, you know, obviously the tournaments post-Australian Open would get hurt. So we have to, I think as men's and women's tennis - the ATP, WTA, everybody involved - consider what are the ramifications of maybe potentially some decisions that are going to be made in terms of the calendar in Australia and how that's going to affect the Tour after that. I'm planning to play the Australian Open for sure. I mean I would like to go there and I'm ready to quarantine for two weeks and whatever is necessary for me to be able to play. I hope that there's going to be support and understanding from the Victorian and Australian government for the players and for Tennis Australia and that they will allow players to compete in the second week of quarantine. I mean hopefully that's going to help tremendously with the calendar and everything and you won't be then losing a week, you'll be able to have at least a tournament or two prior to the Australian Open which for the majority of the players is important. Obviously for a lot of the players they were done with the season in Paris-Bercy and then potentially having no tournaments... no official matches, sorry, before the Australian Open, before a Grand Slam, is a huge thing. So, you know, hopefully we'll be able to have at least a tournament before the Aussie Open."

2. WHITE FLASH

3. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WORLD NUMBER SEVEN, ALEXANDER ZVEREV, SAYING:

"Yes, I think, yes. The first few matches are always, especially for me, are quite scrappy in the year. So, I would love to play maybe one event, two events, maybe the ATP Cup before that. But credit to Tennis Australia and to Craig Tiley. They're doing, I think they're doing, they're trying the best they can. I think the Australian government is being very cautious about it because they have no cases in Australia. They have what 13 cases or something like that, I read that somewhere. So, they want to keep it that way and obviously if 3,000 people for the tennis all of a sudden arrive in Australia there will be cases. There is no doubt about it. I think if 3,000 people are tested there are going to be a few cases that are positive. So, yes they're very cautious about it but we'll see if the Australian Open will happen. I'm looking forward to it. I would love to play."

4. WHITE FLASH

5. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WORLD NUMBER SEVEN, ALEXANDER ZVEREV, SAYING:

"We will be able to practise. We won't be able to play tournaments but I think we'll be able to practise. Because if we can't even practise for 14 days and we have to go out and play the Australian Open it's a lottery. I mean you can basically flip a coin who wins."

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA (FILE - FEBRUARY 3, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

6. VARIOUS OF NOVAK DJOKOVIC HOLDING AND KISSING THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN TROPHY WHILE POSING FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS HAVING WON THE 2020 TITLE

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA (FEBRUARY 2, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

7. VARIOUS OF 2020 AUSTRALIAN OPEN WOMEN'S FINAL WINNER, SOFIA KENIN WITH TROPHY

8. PHOTOGRAPHERS

9. KENIN KISSING TROPHY

10. KENIN POSING WITH TROPHY ON RIVER BANK

STORY: World number one Novak Djokovic has called on authorities to allow players to compete before the Australian Open while undertaking their mandatory quarantine period.

The start of the 2021 season remains in limbo, with officials declining to endorse Tennis Australia's plans to have players arrive mid-December and be free to compete at the ATP Cup and other events ahead of the year's first Grand Slam.

Australia is effectively closed to non-residents due to COVID-19 protocols and international arrivals must spend two weeks in quarantine before they can move around freely.

Serbian Djokovic said he would do whatever was required to play at the Australian Open but hoped the government could also be accommodating.

"I hope that there is going to be support and understanding from the Victorian and Australian government for the players and for Tennis Australia and that they will allow players to compete in the second week of quarantine," he told reporters at the ATP Finals on Wednesday (November 18).

"I mean, hopefully that's going to help tremendously with the calendar and everything, and you won't be then losing a week.

"You will be able to have at least a tournament or two prior to the Australian Open, which for majority of the players is important.

"Having no official match before the Australian Open, before a Grand Slam, is a huge thing."

Victoria state premier Daniel Andrews said on Wednesday he was confident the Australian Open would go ahead at Melbourne Park but declined to confirm Tennis Australia's scheduling for the Jan. 18-31 Grand Slam and other events in the leadup, including the team-based ATP Cup.

Djokovic led Serbia to victory in the inaugural $15 million ATP Cup last January and hopes to defend the title.

U.S. Open finalist Alex Zverev, the world number seven, said players should at least be able to practise during quarantine.

"Because if we can't even practise for 14 days and we have to go out to play the Australian Open, it's a lottery," said the German.

"You can basically flip a coin who wins."

(Production: Tim Hart)