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Barty: I Understand Frustration With Djokovic Decision

By Richard Pagliaro | Wednesday January 5, 2022

Some Melbourne residents are irked by Novak Djokovic receiving a medical exemption to play the Australian Open.

World No. 1 Ash Barty understands her fellow Aussies' frustrations.

Jamie Murray on Djokovic: I Wouldn't Be Getting an Exemption

Given the severe lockdowns locals endured during the Coronavirus pandemic, Barty said she appreciates the annoyance some Aussies are feeling over the exemption.

"Yeah, I think it's a tough one," Barty said after defeating Coco Gauff 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 in Adelaide on Wednesday. "As we've seen a little bit in the last day or so, from the Australian public, I know how hard it has been for Australians all around our nation, but in particular Victorians have had a real rough trot over the last 18 months and two years.

"I understand why they may be frustrated with the decision."

The state of Victoria, home to the city of Melbourne, reports a double-dose vaccination rate of 93 percent for residents over the age of 12. Djokovic has declined to disclose if he's vaccinated and has said he opposes tournaments imposing vaccine mandates for players.

Wimbledon winner Barty said she has no desire to speak specifically on Djokovic's medical exemption.

"Ultimately I have no interest in speaking about Novak's medical history," Barty said. "It's not my decision. Those decisions are made. They're completely out of my control. Ultimately I have no interest in speaking about it."

Asked her reaction to Djokovic's exemption, former US Open champion Samantha Stosur said it's a Victoria department of health decision and "obviously a pretty heated topic at the moment."

"I think as far as the exemption goes, I don't obviously have any idea what the exemption is for, what it was," Stosur told the media in Melbourne. "I know I don't think it comes down to the tennis circles and the Australian Open deciding those, it's the government. So whatever application has been sent in, they've obviously given it the okay.

"But yeah, it's obviously a pretty heated topic at the moment, and hopefully it's all fine in the long run."

Photo credit: Australian Open Facebook