Nadal says Djokovic facing ‘consequences’ in deportation saga
World number one Novak Djokovic faced potential ‘trouble’ by attempting to compete at the Australian Open with a medical exemption, according to the Serbian star’s great rival Rafael Nadal.
Djokovic is battling deportation from Australia after having his visa canceled by the border authorities on Wednesday.
The 34-year-old Serbian star has not publicly revealed his vaccine status but had arrived in Australia believing he would be allowed to enter due to a Covid vaccine medical exemption.
The Serbian star remains at a Melbourne hotel run by the immigration authorities after the hearing into his deportation case was moved to Monday.
Nadal, who is fully vaccinated and recovered from a Covid infection in December, is already in Australia and is competing at the Melbourne Summer Set tournament – a warm-up for the Australian Open later this month.
The Spaniard was asked about fellow 20-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic after recording a victory over Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis on Thursday.
“Of course, what’s happening is not good for anyone in my opinion. I can’t have a clear opinion because I don’t have all the details, honestly,” replied Nadal.
“I went through the Covid, I have been vaccinated twice. If you do this, you don’t have any problem to play here,” added the 35-year-old.
“The only for me clear thing is if you are vaccinated, you can play in the Australian Open and everywhere, and the world in my opinion have been suffering enough to not follow the rules.”
Djokovic and the Australian tennis authorities faced a huge backlash after it was revealed that the nine-time Australian Open champion had been granted a medical exemption after consideration from two separate medical panels.
However, ahead of his arrival Down Under, Djokovic was warned by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison that he would still need to satisfy the border authorities of the validity of his exemption and his right to enter the country.
As it turned out, the Australian Border Force (ABF) declared that Djokovic had “failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements to Australia, and his visa has been subsequently canceled.”
Nadal, who won the Australian Open in 2009, said he understood the fury directed at Djokovic by some Australians, who have been subjected to some of the most stringent lockdown conditions anywhere in the world during the Covid pandemic.
“A lot of families have been suffering a lot during the last two years with all the pandemic,” Nadal said.
“I mean, it’s normal that the people here in Australia get very frustrated with the (Djokovic) case because they have been going through a lot of very hard lockdowns, and a lot of people were not able to come back home.”
Nadal said it was up to people to make their own decisions regarding vaccination, but “there are rules, and if you don’t want to get the vaccine then you can have some serious troubles.”
“A lot of people have been dying for two years, and my feeling is that the vaccine is the only way to stop this pandemic,” Nadal added.
“[Djokovic] made his own decisions, and everybody is free to take their own decisions, but then there are some consequences. Of course I don’t like the situation that is happening. In some way I feel sorry for him.
“But at the same time, he knew the conditions since a lot of months ago, so he makes his own decision.”
Nadal is stepping up his comeback with a meeting against either Alexei Popyrin of Australia or Tallon Griekspoor of the Netherlands in the next round in Melbourne.
Djokovic, meanwhile, awaits his fate as he languishes in a government immigration hotel, potentially being kicked out of the country next week and deprived of the chance to win a record 21st Grand Slam title.