The Nadal-Djokovic Rivalry is one the greatest rivalries in the world of sports, especially tennis. The two men have gone against each other in different tournaments and on different turfs, including hard courts, clay, and grass.
To date, Novak Djokovic stands as the only tennis player to have successfully defeated Rafael Nadal in the four major tennis tournaments — French Open, U.S. Open, Australian Open, and Wimbledon.
The current world number 1, Novak Djokovic slightly edges out Nadal in their head-to-head count. The duo has gone against each other at different stages of competitions 58 times, with Djokovic coming out victorious 30 times out of those meetings.
Tennis lovers are looking forward to seeing the statistics grow at this year’s Australian Open which begins in a few days.
However, that will only be possible if Djokovic can meet all the requirements and settle with the appropriate authorities to play in the competition without being vaccinated.
It had been stated in 2021, that only vaccinated players will be able to participate in the competition.
Djokovic was willing to bank on a medical exemption due to his previous COVID diagnosis and treatment about 6 months ago. However, it doesn’t seem to be going as planned.
The Australian authority has indicated that his medical exemption isn’t sufficient enough to grant him the chance to chase his record 21 grand slam singles title in the Australian open, without being vaccinated.
His attempt to enter Australia on Thursday the 6th of January 2021, met strict resistance. The Tennis star spent his first night being interrogated at the airport by border officials, who strictly reiterated their stance on the necessity of being vaccinated against the COVID virus before being allowed entry into the country.
Djokovic spent his second night in quarantine at a hotel while he awaits the verdict of his visa appeal this coming Monday. His strong stance not to get vaccinated has put him at the center of a political and diplomatic stir between the Serbian and Australian Governments.
The Australian authorities question the validity of his medical exemption from a COVID-19 vaccination. His hopes of participating now hang in the air as he awaits the verdict of his visa appeal.
Amidst all this, Rafael Nadal has decided not to read deeper meaning into the situation.
Nadal returned to the competition for the first time since August last year, and believes that Djokovic was aware of his decisions and the consequences they may bring.
He said he believes in the medical experts’ recommendations, and whatever their directive may be, he follows it to the letter.
Nadal continued by saying: “I’ve experienced the COVID. I have been vaccinated twice. By doing this, there shouldn’t be a problem playing here. That’s very clear, amongst other things. I don’t want to have an opinion or give a recommendation/opinion when I don’t have the complete information.
The Spanish Tennis superstar went on to say, “Getting vaccinated is the only clear thing to me. If you’re vaccinated, you can participate in the Australian Open and everywhere. In my opinion, the world has been suffering enough not to follow the rules.”
Rafael Nadal was further questioned on whether he felt sorry for his major rival in the tournament, and while his response was quite positive, he wasn’t full of sympathy for the Serbian international.
He said, “I think if he wanted, he would be playing in the Australian Open without a problem. He made his own decisions, and everyone’s free to make their own decisions, but it comes with consequences. Of course, I don’t like the current situation. In some way, I feel sorry for him, but at the same time, he was aware of the conditions many months ago. So, he makes his own decision.”
Djokovic is currently at a Melbourne immigration hotel in quarantine. The Park Hotel currently holds 36 asylum seekers who have been detained for over 8 years. This has caused upset for Djokovic fans worldwide.
His presence in the hotel has brought about an unusual spotlight, with fans gathering outside the hotel to show their solidarity and support.
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Activists are also leveraging the spotlight to publicly condemn and protest against the treatment received by asylum seekers in the hotel.
It remains to be seen whether or not Djokovic will participate in the Australian Open, which begins on January 17th, 2022.