Rafael Nadal says he ‘disagrees’ with Novak Djokovic’s recent actions as D-Day looms for Serbian star
The Australian Open is far more important than any player, according to Novak Djokovic’s Spanish rival Rafael Nadal, who has spoken out against the world number one’s handling of his controversial visa case.
Djokovic has been at the center of a scandal that has reached the highest levels of the Australian government and drawn harsh rebukes from the Serbian presidency and even royal figures, but Nadal, who is tied with Djokovic on a record 20 wins in a Grand Slam alongside Roger Federer, says the Serb deserves his share of the blame for his actions that led to his visa being revoked.
Speaking ahead of his first-round match with American Marcos Giron, Nadal stressed he had no negative feelings towards Djokovic but admitted he thought the situation could have been handled better by the Serbian star and his team and if his expulsion was finalized. , life will go on.
“Everyone chooses their own path” said the tournament’s sixth seed of unvaccinated Djokovic. “I wish him all the best. I really respect him, although I don’t agree with a lot of things he’s done in the last few weeks.
Rafael Nadal says Australian Open and any tennis event is more important than one player amid Djokovic COVID controversy. pic.twitter.com/HZKYie5Cos
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) January 15, 2022
“It’s very clear that Novak Djokovic is one of the best players in history, without a doubt. But no player in history is more important than an event.
“The Australian Open is much more important than any player. If he finally plays, OK. If he doesn’t play, the Australian Open will be a great Australian Open with or without him .”
Nadal’s stance appears to resonate with wider public opinion in Australia, where Djokovic has been described as an anti-vaxx pariah; a caricature that was drawn by his hesitation about vaccination and his admission that he did not follow self-isolation protocols in his home country following a Covid diagnosis in December.
Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has decided to overturn a court order and revoke Djokovic’s visa largely because of the developments, amid suggestions that failure to do so could boost sentiment anti-vaccination in the country.
Nadal, however, is fed up with what he says has become a circus.
“I’m just a player who sees the circus from the outside. I’m a little tired of this case”, he told CNN. “I think it’s gone too far. I wish Novak the best and that’s it. I want to play tennis.”
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Basically, the Spaniard sees the issue as part of a larger conversation about how to deal with a global pandemic that has interrupted life for two years.
“I don’t agree with his way of thinking about how to proceed in the face of this pandemic”, Nadal said. “I really believe in vaccination…and when you make your decisions, there are consequences…We’ve done a lot together. I think of positive things for our sport and I wish him good luck.
“What we are facing in the world is much, much more important than tennis and tennis players…millions of people have already died and many families are suffering the consequences of this terrible [pandemic] almost two years [in].”
Nadal won the Australian Open in 2009 and reached the final four times, including losses to Djokovic in 2012 and 2019 and a loss to Federer in 2017.
Djokovic is expected to find out on Sunday (Australian time) if his last resort against deportation from Australia is successful. He was drawn against fellow countryman Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round of the event.
The first Grand Slam of the year takes place in Melbourne from January 17 to 30, 2022.