Nadal Calls Djokovic Controversy ‘A Circus’

January 11, 2022Updated: January 11, 2022

Spain’s Rafa Nadal called on Monday Novak Djokovic’s COVID-19 vaccine exemption controversy in Australia “a circus” and joked that he would prefer that the world number one tennis player didn’t play at the upcoming Australian Open.

Djokovic was released from Australian immigration detention on Monday after winning a court challenge to remain in the country to pursue his bid for a record 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open.

“Whether or not I agree with Djokovic on some things, justice has spoken and has said that he has the right to participate in the Australian Open and I think it is the fairest decision to do so, if it has been resolved that way. I wish him the best of luck,” Nadal told Spanish radio Onda Cero.

Djokovic, 34, was granted a medical exemption from vaccination requirements to play in the Australian Open, but was denied entry into Australia and detained by officials at the border last Thursday. On Monday, Judge Anthony Kelly had found the Australian federal government’s decision to cancel Djokovic’s visa to be “unreasonable” and had reinstated his visa.

“On a personal level, I’d much rather he didn’t play,” Nadal said, laughing along with interviewer.

“It’s sports, many interests move around it, on a general level, at an economic, advertising level. Everything is much better when the best can be playing,” Nadal said.

Nadal is tied on 20 majors with Djokovic and Switzerland’s Roger Federer.

On Twitter, Spanish player, Feliciano Lopez, posted: “Judge Kelly solving the mess-disaster-absurdity that other parties involved have created. Tennis wins.”

World number 24 tennis player John Isner said: “Only thing left to do is win the trophy again and leave town never to return …”

Meanwhile, former Indian tennis player Somdev Devvarman, posted on Twitter: “Novak vs the world. We’ve seen that before. This is different. If he ends up defending his title and getting to 21 slams, it’ll be one of the greatest tennis stories ever told,” he said.