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Novak Djokovic clear to play at French Open under current restrictions

Tournament director Amelie Mauresmo plans could change if cases in the country rise.

Djokovic missed the Australian Open.
Djokovic missed the Australian Open.
Image: Cameron Spencer

NOVAK DJOKOVIC WILL be able to defend his French Open title in May as things stand, according to tournament director Amelie Mauresmo.

Djokovic was denied the right to enter Australia for the year’s first grand slam due to his unvaccinated status and was also ruled out of a tournament in Indian Wells for the same reason.

However, France largely lifted coronavirus restrictions this week, with the exception of certain areas such as hospitals and nursing homes.

And Mauresmo told a press conference on Wednesday: “As things stand, nothing stands in the way of Djokovic taking part in the French Open.”

Officials are planning for the grounds to be at full capacity for the tournament for the first time in two years, with half a million tickets already sold.

However, organisers conceded that their plans – and by extension the participation of Djokovic – could be put back in doubt should rising case numbers prompt any of the restrictions to be reintroduced.

French tennis federation president Gilles Moretton said: “There’s still a virus circulating, and we have to be cautious.

“If things were to happen again and the government would take new measures, we would not be excluded from these measures.”

Djokovic has steadfastly refused to consider vaccination, indicating that he would rather jeopardise his hold on the world number one ranking and his pursuit of a 21st career grand slam crown than get a jab.

“The principles of decision making on my body are more important than any title or anything else,” Djokovic told the BBC in February. “I’m trying to be in tune with my body as much as I possibly can.”

In other news, tennis’ Grand Slam tournaments will all trial using a first-to-10 tie-break in final sets this year, the four competitions announced on Wednesday.

Until now, the major events all employed different rules on how to end a match which reaches 6-6 in a deciding set.

The Australian Open already uses a first-to-10 breaker, while the US Open has opted for a traditional first-to-seven tie-break at 6-6 for over 50 years.

The French Open has still not used a final-set tie-break, although Wimbledon introduced a first-to-seven breaker at 12-12 in 2019.

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“The Grand Slam Board are pleased to announce the joint decision to play a 10-point tie-break at all Grand Slams, to be played when the score reaches six games all in the final set,” the organisers of the Grand Slams said in a statement.

“The Grand Slam Board’s decision is based on a strong desire to create greater consistency in the rules of the game at the Grand Slams.”

With the exception of the US Open, the Grand Slams had no final-set tie-breaks until three years ago.

But there were calls for change after John Isner’s famous match against Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon in 2010, which the American won 70-68 in a fifth set after more than 11 hours of play.

The Grand Slam Board added they would review the trial before “applying for any permanent rule change”.

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