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Top doubles player Herbert pulls out of Australian Open over vaccine stance

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Melbourne, Dec 11 (IANS) Former Australian Open doubles champion and winner of five men’s doubles titles at majors, Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert, has revealed that he will not compete in the opening Grand Slam of 2022 as he is “not vaccinated”.

The Australian Open begins on January 17.

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The Australian Open director Craig Tiley had recently stated that only fully-vaccinated players will be allowed to compete in the tournament, adding that no exceptions will be made.

The 30-year-old Herbert, who won the Australian Open men’s doubles title in 2019 partnering Nicolas Mahut, is ranked No. 8 on the ATP, while his singles ranking is 110.

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“Personally, I am not vaccinated and the trip to Australia was not an option for me,” Herbert was quoted as saying by French outlet L’Alsace and reported by 7news.com.au on Saturday.

“I do what I can. But because of my singles ranking, it may have been a bad thing (to go to Australia) for a good start,” said Herbert, who dropped out of the top-100 in singles ranking recently.

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“Yes, for my part, it is a personal choice not to be vaccinated. I don’t know how long it will last, I don’t know if it’s feasible today to be a tennis player without being vaccinated. There is not only Australia. Today, there are the United States, Austria… it is a rather complex topic,” added Herbert.

The Frenchmen was in contention for clinching the doubles title in Melbourne Park as he has won at Roland Garros this year, which took his grand slam titles to five.

Herbert’s partner Mahut too is reportedly unsure about his Australian Open participation as he has received only one shot of the Covid-19 vaccine.

“I am vaccinated. I had been positive, so I had only one jab three months after I was positive,” Mahut had said last month. “And today it’s not enough to go there (to Australia). We need the two jabs. One jab after being positive does not allow you to go there. I need to have a blood test to show if I have enough antibodies. If the rate is high enough it wouldn’t be prudent to have a second jab.”

World No.1 and winner of 20 majors, Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, too has not yet committed to the tournament and repeatedly declined to reveal his vaccination status.

–IANS

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