Rafael Nadal has criticised the actions of World No. 1 Novak Djokovic as the Serbian tennis star prepares to face up to the prospect of not being able to defend his Australian Open title this month.
Djokovic has had a chaotic couple of weeks in the lead up to the tournament having initially been granted an ‘exemption’ to travel to play in the first Grand Slam of the year.
However, his visa was then rejected when he landed in Australia, and despite winning his appeal against the decision, he has since had his visa revoked for a second time by the country’s government having admitted to doing an interview after testing positive for Covid-19 last month.
Novak Djokovic has been practicing, but his participation in Melbourne is doubtful right now
The 34-year-old is set to find out whether he will be deported at a hearing at 10:30pm on Saturday (UK time), only hours before the tournament is due to get underway.
Nadal is set to play at Melbourne Park as he looks to add to his solitary triumph at the venue back in 2009.
Speaking in his pre-tournament press conference, the Spanish icon insisted that he had no ill feelings towards Djokovic, but admitted that he was not impressed by the choices that his arch-rival had made in recent times.
‘Everyone chooses his road. I wish him all the best. I really respect him, even if I do not agree with a lot of things that he did the last couple of weeks.’ Nadal said.
Rafael Nadal has questioned the behaviour of Djokovic in the build-up to the Australian Open
Djokovic has won the tournament nine times, but may not get to defend his title this year
Djokovic has won the Australian Open on nine occasions, and currently sits level with Nadal and Roger Federer on 20 Grand Slam titles.
Nadal believes that Djokovic’s standing in the sport cannot be questioned, but still expects the first major of 2022 to be a success even if the world’s leading men’s player is not allowed to compete.
‘It’s very clear that Novak Djokovic is one of the best players of the history, without a doubt. But there is no one player in history that’s more important than an event.
‘Australian Open is much more important than any player. If he’s playing finally, OK. If he’s not playing, Australian Open will be a great Australian Open with or without him,’ he added.
For now, Djokovic remains in the main draw as he awaits the court’s verdict, and he will face fellow countryman Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round, if he is permitted to play.