The Australian Open is far more important than any one player, according to Novak Djokovic’s Spanish rival Rafael Nadal, who has spoken out against the world number one’s handling of his highly contentious visa affair.
Djokovic has been central to a scandal which has reached the highest level of the Australian government and prompted harsh rebukes from the Serbian presidency and even royal figures but Nadal, who is tied with Djokovic on a record 20 Grand Slam wins alongside Roger Federer, says that the Serb deserves his share of the blame for his actions which led to his visa being revoked.
Speaking ahead of his first-round match with American Marcos Giron, Nadal stressed that he has no negative sentiment towards Djokovic but admitted that he thinks that the situation could have been handled better by the Serbian star and his team and that if his deportation is finalized, life will go on.
“Everyone chooses his road,” the tournament sixth seed said of the unvaccinated Djokovic. “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.
“It’s very clear that Novak Djokovic is one of the best players in history, without a doubt. But there is no one player in history that’s more important than an event.
“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.”