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Nadal drops Djokovic’s truth bomb

Players are fed up with the Novak Djokovic saga, with the great Rafael Nadal saying it will be a great Australian Open, with or without the world No.1.

Djokovic’s visa cancellation dramas dominated the build-up to the year’s first Grand Slam, with the nine-time Open champion’s playing status yet to be decided in court on Sunday.

Djokovic faces expulsion unless he succeeds with the hastily arranged legal action ahead of the Open’s first round from Monday.

Australia’s top men’s player, Alex de Minaur, has said he is frustrated with the continued focus on the Serbian superstar’s off-pitch issues.

“This whole situation has distracted us from the attention of competitors,” the world No. 34 said on Saturday at Melbourne Park.

“I feel like it takes away competitors who just want to start.

“I’m just ready to put it all behind me and focus on my tennis matches… we all want to carry on with our own stuff.”

With Roger Federer once again missing the Open through injury, the door will open wider for 2009 champion Nadal to edge out his two arch-rivals in winning a record 21st men’s Grand Slam title if Djokovic is ruled out.

Nadal said that despite defending champion Djokovic’s dominance in Australia, no player was bigger than a Grand Slam.

“It’s very clear that Novak Djokovic is one of the best players in history, without a doubt,” the 35-year-old said.

(Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

“But there is not a single player in history who is more important than an event.

“Players stay and then leave, and other players arrive.

“No one, even Roger (Federer), Novak, myself, Bjorn Borg who was amazing in his time, tennis continues.

“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 .”

Fellow Spaniard Garbine Muguruza, the women’s third seed, had little sympathy for Djokovic.

“All of this could have been avoided, like we all did, by getting vaccinated, doing whatever we had to do to come here to Australia,” the two-time major champion said.

Australian veteran Sam Stosur, playing her final Open, said she hoped the Dojokovic saga would not “tarnish” this year’s tournament.

“We want the Aussie Open to be for good things, not unfortunately what Novak’s situation has become,” she said.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, Greek men’s fourth seed, openly critical of Djokovic, tried to bring attention back to the game.

“It’s been pretty much all over the media for the past few weeks. He got a lot of attention,” said Tsitsipas, who was Djokovic’s runner-up at Roland Garros last year.

“That’s why I’m here to talk about tennis…we haven’t talked about tennis enough in the last few weeks, which is a shame.”

Nadal recently overcame COVID-19 while De Minaur battled the virus last year, his form and ranking slipping as he struggled to fully recover.

After watching other Australian players such as John Millman spend 11 months away from home due to the country’s strict border and quarantine requirements, he seemed to have little sympathy for Djokovic.

The 32nd seed says Djokovic made his choice not to vaccinate.

“When you arrive, along with all the other tennis players, if you wanted to enter the country, you had to be double vaccinated. It was up to him, his choices, his judgement,” he said.

“Here we are.”


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