Rafael Nadal short on sympathy for rival Novak ‘no-visa’ Djokovic

Jan 07, 2022
Nadal (above left) says Djokovic could have avoided this situation if he really wanted to play. Source: Getty

World no.6 tennis player Rafael Nadal has sent a not-so-subtle message to rival and world no.1 Novak Djokovic, saying he could have avoided all his troubles if he were vaccinated.

Djokovic, 34, is currently fighting to remain in Australia to win a 10th Australian Open title and record-breaking 21st grand slam championship, after landing in Melbourne with a reported medical exemption for a Covid vaccination.

His arrival on Thursday saw an extraordinary day of rolling developments, with the Serbian tennis player becoming the centre of a diplomatic and political uproar over the validity of his medical exemption.

Nadal, meanwhile, sees things in simpler terms. “The only clear thing for me is [that] if you are vaccinated you can play in the Australian Open and everywhere. And the world – in my opinion – has been suffering enough to not [have someone] follow the rules,” the 35-year-old said, according to The Guardian newspaper.

When asked whether he felt sorry for Djokovic, the Spaniard’s response indicated little sympathy. “I think if he wanted, he would be playing here in Australia without a problem,” Nadal said. “He made his own decisions – and everybody is free to take their own decisions – but then there are some consequences.”

Djokovic’s presence produced an unusual spectacle as some fans gathered around his hotel in support of him. Source: Getty

Despite the federal government’s decision to remove Djokovic from his visa after deeming his medical exemption insufficient, the Serbian will remain in Melbourne until he receives the outcome of his legal appeal.

There is currently an interim court order ensuring that Djokovic cannot be deported from Australia until after his hearing on Monday, January 10. While his challenge could reach the High Court, time is of the essence, as the Australian Open begins in less than a fortnight, on Monday, January 17.

After spending his first night in Australia being interrogated by border officials, Djokovic is now staying at the notorious immigration hotel, Park Hotel in Carlton (which holds 36 asylum seekers), until his hearing on Monday.

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