Tennis: Legal loophole may allow anti-vax Novak Djokovic to defend Roland Garros title

World No.1 Novak Djokovic can theoretically defend his French Open title this year, despite his continued refusal to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Djokovic, 34, was barred from this month's Australian Open and deported, after a lengthy saga that saw him detained while entering the country without a vaccination - a Victorian requirement for athletes competing in the state.

Chasing a record 21st Grand Slam title, Djokovic faced similar obstacles at Roland Garros, with France also imposing laws to exclude the unvaccinated from public places, including stadiums.

But as the new protocols take effect, Associated Press reports the measures won't extend to those who have tested positive for the virus in the previous six months.

Djokovic's medical exemption was gained on the grounds that he tested positive for COVID-19 in mid-December and would allow him to play at Roland Garros in 2022, held in May and June.

The chance to play at the French Open would allow Djokovic to break the Grand Slam record, which he currently shares with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at 20.

Nadal could still take the outright lead with his second Australian Open crown and faces Canadian Denis Shapovaolov in the quarter-finals.