Rafael Nadal already is tired of talking about the unvaccinated Novak Djokovic ahead of the Australian Open.
Nadal is appearing in his first Grand Slam event since the French Open in June due to a foot injury. He shrugged Saturday when asked about the controversy surrounding Djokovic, the defending champion who is facing exclusion from the tournament and deportation from the country over visa issues due to his refusal to comply with Australia’s vaccination rules for COVID-19.
“Honestly, I’m a little bit tired of the situation,” Nadal told reporters in Melbourne. “The Australian Open is much more important than any player. If he’s playing, finally, OK.
“If he’s not playing, the Australian Open will be a great Australian Open, with or without him. That’s my point of view.”
Nadal and Djokovic are tied with Roger Federer with 20 Grand Slam titles apiece, the most by a men’s player in tennis history. Nadal is fully vaccinated, although he tested positive for COVID-19 in December.
A panel of federal judges in Australia will decide Sunday whether the 34-year-old Djokovic – who is slated to play his first-round match on Monday — will be deported without participating in the event.
“I wish him all the best,” Nadal, 35, added about Djokovic. “I really respect him, even if I [do] not agree with a lot of things that he did the last couple of weeks.”