After receiving a medical exemption assigned to unvaccinated participants attending the Open, Djokovic was blocked by the Victorian government — overseeing and hosting the event. Australia’s border force detained Djokovic after he failed to provide enough documentation on his medical status.
Tennis rival, and sixth-ranked player, Rafael Nadal spoke on Djokovic’s situation — serving more accountability than grief.
“I think if he wanted, he would be playing here in Australia without a problem,” Nadal commented on Thursday. “He made his own decisions, and everybody is free to take their own decisions. But then there are some consequences.”
Nadal peppered in some sympathy as Djokovic remains quarantined at a controlled residence.
“Of course I don’t like the situation that is happening. In some way I feel sorry for him,” Nadal noted. “But at the same time, he knew the conditions since a lot of months ago, so he makes his own decision.”
Initial response to Djokovic’s medical exemption contested the Association of Tennis Professionals‘ vaccination ruling as star players gained a pass.
Sharing the sentiment was former Roger Federer coach Paul Annacone, who challenged the ruling and Djokovic’s role.
“The two panels it goes through do not know who the person is, they just look at the symptoms,” Annacone said, via Reuters. “If that integrity is upheld, then what’s done is done. But there’s going to be a lot of questions asked.”
He also acknowledged the media’s appeal for antagonizing Djokovic — an outspoken player at the top of his sport, challenged only by baseless COVID restrictions.
“But Novak Djokovic is pretty good when there’s a little bit of antagonism going on,” he added. “When he steps out on the court and he starts to display what he does well, which is play amazing tennis and entertain, I think that they are going to be very happy,” she said.
Djokovic can opt to leave Australia, but his team currently awaits an appeals case meeting, scheduled for Monday, Jan. 10. The Australian Open will start on Jan. 17.