World No. 110 Pierre-Hugues Herbert is the first player to announce his withdrawal from the Australian Open due to their vaccination mandate. Only fully vaccinated will be allowed to play at Melbourne Park and Herbert decided it's the best for him to skip the opening Grand Slam of the season.
"Personally, I am not vaccinated and the trip to Australia was not an option for me,” Herbert said, in comments published in French media outlet L’Alsace. “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”.
However, Herbert didn't close the door on taking the vaccine. “For my part, it is a personal choice not to be vaccinated,” Herbert said. “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”.
Herbert and Nicolas Mahut won't play together
Herbert's withdrawal means that he and Mahut -- who completed a Calendar Grand Slam -- won't play together at Melbourne Park.
Herbert and Mahut finished their season with a runner-up finish at the Paris Masters and a victory at the ATP Finals. “It is difficult to say what makes us successful,” said Herbert. “It is a lot of things and sometimes it is things which you cannot really explain.
But when we are on court together, we feel we’re one team. “It has been so long that we have played together now. It is hard to play to a good level with someone, and it is even tougher to play with that person to a good level for a long time.
“This is what we have managed to do, and it is one of the things that I am most proud of, that we are still playing together after so many years, still having success and still having pleasure to play together. "We are quite different and bring something to the other guy that maybe helps him on court. We are also good communicators and we have remained true to ourselves. Also, we do it as friends."