Former world No.9 CoCo Vandeweghe has defended Novak Djokovic after he was controversially granted a medical exemption to play in the Australian Open.
Djokovic, anonymously assessed by two separate independent panels of medical experts, met the strict guidelines set by the federal government advisory group Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation for a medical exemption.
The exemption has caused outrage in the Australian community after most of the country has lived with tight COVID-19 restrictions over the past 24 months.
In Bendigo to prepare for next week's Australian Open qualifying, Vandeweghe said she did not feel cheated or upset by the decision to allow Djokovic to play.
"All I know is I got vaccinated, I got my two jabs and I'm here and ready to play,'' Vandeweghe said after her second round win at the Bendigo International.
"There's vaccinated people and there's people who aren't vaccinated. It's a personal choice.
"The government and TA (Tennis Australia) have allowed him to come in with an exemption. He (Djokovic) followed the rules and guidelines that were presented and the government allowed it.
"What can you do?"
Vandeweghe, 30, has been on the WTA tour for more than a decade.
She said the COVID-19 restrictions around the world made life tougher at times, but she still felt fortunate to be in a position to play the game she loves.
"With the restrictions it's not as fun as what it used to be, but that's life,'' she said. "You have to adjust and make do with what you can.
"Hopefully, once everyone figures out what we can do under these parameters life can get back to normal as soon as possible."
Vandeweghe is on the comeback trail from two years of injuries.
Now ranked 178 in the world, Vandeweghe dodged a bullet in her second round match in Bendigo.
American qualifier Hanna Chang took Vandweghe to a deciding third set, but the former Australian Open and US Open semi-finalist prevailed 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.
"It's work in progress,'' Vandeweghe said. "I felt comfortable out there, whether or not the scoreline dictates that, I'm not sure.
"I definitely felt as though I played better today compared to the first day. That's all the positives I need.
"I felt like I was less rusty today and I felt more under control in terms of shot selection.
"I'd only played the one match before today, so I can only get better.
"Hanna is a tough player, she moves well, she gets the extra ball back and she plays well off the forehand.
"I just had to keep myself under control and ride the wave of momentum that she created or that I would give her.
"I had to trust and believe in my game style to get myself through the match."
The Bendigo International doesn't hold the prestige of a WTA event, but it's a crucial stop for Vandeweghe.
"This week is hugely important for me,'' she said.
"I didn't come here just for the fun of it. Don't get me wrong, what I do is fun, but my goal is to get back into the top 100 and get into the main draw at Wimbledon.
"Every match I play helps me get to the place I want to be back at."
After a tough two-year stretch, Vandeweghe said it was confidence-building to return to a country where she's had success in the past.
"I love coming back to Australia,'' she said. "This is my first time in Bendigo. It's a neat area and I like these venues where it's quaint and everyone is happy to see you.
"(That support) is what makes tennis fun. That's why I decided to come back and play after two years of injuries.
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