‘We have to trust the doctors’: Tennis legend Nadal calls unvaccinated people ‘selfish’
The man who is thought to be Nadal's main rival for the Australian Open in January, Novak Djokovic, has insisted he will not reveal whether he has been vaccinated.
World number one Djokovic's position has become a symbol of the reluctance among tennis stars to confirm they have been vaccinated, with several high-profile controversies emerging in recent months.
Contender Stefanos Tsitsipas appeared to earn condemnation from his home government in Greece after being quoted as saying that allowing the virus to spread would bebeneficial, and around 35% of stars in the sport were said to have remained unvaccinated in late October.
As far as I know, Nadal, Federer and Thiem are confirmed to be vaccinated. The latter stated it on his social media last week. https://t.co/SiqA3c2LjE— Nichole (@NicholeTheOtter) November 10, 2021
Djokovic gets huffy when his vaccination status is a topic of speculation, but1) that's entirely his doing by keeping it in the dark, and2) his vaccination status is extraordinarily relevant to the competitive outlook of men's tennis in the near future, so it's a valid topic— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) November 8, 2021
Nadal, who has raised millions of dollars towards relief efforts during the pandemic through a charity alongside six-time NBA All-Star Pau Gasol and the Red Cross, does not seem impressed by those who are yet to receive a jab.
"I understand that there are people who do not want to be vaccinated, but it seems a bit selfish to me," the world number six told Marca.
"We have suffered a lot. We do not know 100 percent the effects of vaccines, but we do have to trust the doctors... we do know the effect of the virus if we are not vaccinated.
"It seems that today we [Spain] are the country that is least affected by the virus and I think it is because we have a large part of the population vaccinated."
Olympic champion and 15-time Grand Slam doubles champion Todd Woodbridge believes that Nadal's intention to return from a foot injury later this year and proceed to compete in Melbourne could influece Djokovic's decision if the Serb superstar is yet to be vaccinated.
Nadal and Federer: I’m vaccinated and I care about the broader good. Djokovic and Medvedev: we’ll see.— jb (@iamjwb5) October 31, 2021
Nadal hasn’t confirmed he is vaccinated so we can’t speculate. Djokovic may also be vaccinated but he doesn’t want to speak to it because the media vilifies everything he does. Which is far enough. He’s a fantastic number one and blessed to witness his career. pic.twitter.com/WxNLVtUzwC— Ivana (@ivtmc03) October 20, 2021
Djokovic's hat-trick of Grand Slam titles in 2021 has brought him level with the tally of 20 recorded by Nadal and fellow modern great Roger Federer, and Woodbridge feels that Djokovic will not want to fall behind again after all the demands of drawing himself level with their records.
"One thing [that] stood out to me today is that Novak has been laid the challenge from Rafael Nadal," Woodbridge told 2GB.
"Now the challenge within that is, 'does he win the tournament and take 21 and get back in front?'
"Does Novak want to let him do that? I'm sure he won't want [Nadal] to be in that position, so at some point Novak is going to have to make that call [about vaccination].
"Novak – he continues to keep us guessing. But, in the end, it's only building pressure on him to make a decision one way or the other. And – who knows? – maybe he already has."
Djokovic has won each of the last three editions of the Australian Open, beating Nadal in the final in 2019.
Speaking about his project with Gasol, Nadal said: "We are all tired of this situation. These are complicated years.
"Many people have lost close people. We had to take a step forward to try to help, put [in] a grain of sand and give help to people."
Nadal has not won a Grand Slam since the French Open in 2020. The 35-year-old was beaten by Djokovic at Roland-Garros this year and withdrew from Wimbledon and the Olympic Games before ending his season ten days ahead of the start of the US Open.