Australian Open: Novak Djokovic has been drawn to play in the first round.© AFP
Novak Djokovic had jeopardized the Australian Open and made other tennis players “like fools” after traveling to Australia unvaccinated, world number four Stefanos Tsitsipas said Thursday. The Serbian world number one, top class and defending champion is looking to secure a 10th Australian Open title at Melbourne Park — it kicks off next Monday — and an unprecedented 21st Grand Slam crown. But the vaccine skeptic’s fate remains uncertain as the Australian government considers to revoke his visa and kick him out of the country for violating Covid protocols.
“He certainly played by his own rules,” Tsitsipas said in an interview with Indian broadcaster WION.
“It takes a lot of guts to do and (is) jeopardize a Grand Slam…I don’t think many players would do that.”
Tsitsipas, who lost to Djokovic in the French Open final last year, said almost everyone at the Melbourne tournament had been vaccinated.
Others, he said, “chose to go their own way, making the majority look like they’re all fools.”
Djokovic flew to Melbourne airport on January 5 with a vaccine waiver due to an alleged positive result from the PCR test on December 16.
Border agents rejected his waiver, saying a recent infection was insufficient justification, tore up his visa and placed him in a detention center.
But Djokovic’s powerful legal team overturned the visa decision in court on Monday over a procedural issue related to his interview at the airport.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday that no decision had been made on whether or not to revoke Djokovic’s visa for a second time.
Djokovic was nevertheless entered the same day in the first round of the Australian Open.
Even if he is allowed to stay, there are questions about his preparations and suitability for the grueling two-week tournament after he was forced to spend four nights in the detention facility.
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