Novak Djokovic’s visa controversy has overshadowed the start of the Australian Open, and some competitors are done with the whole ordeal.
Rafael Nadal, among the favorites to win the Aussie Open, admitted he’s “a little bit tired of the situation.”
Spain’s Rafael Nadal gestures during a press conference ahead of the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Simon Baker)
“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. That’s my point of view,” the 20-time major champion said.
Garbiñe Muguruza, the No. 3 seed on the women’s side of the Australian Open, said she felt the whole situation was avoidable.
“All this could have been avoided, like we’ve all done, by getting vaccinated, doing all the things we had to do to come here in Australia. Everybody knew very clearly the rules. You just have to follow them and that’s it. I don’t think it’s that difficult,” she said.
Garbiñe Muguruza of Spain prepares to hit a forehand to Czech Republic’s Barbora Krejcikova during a WTA Finals tennis match in Guadalajara, Mexico, Friday, Nov. 12, 2021. Muguruza is seeded No. 3 at the Australian Open, the Grand Slam tennis tournament scheduled to begin Monday, Jan. 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Refugio Ruiz, File)
Djokovic was ruled eligible to be in Australia and play in the Open earlier in the week after a judge ruled his medical exemption to get into the country was valid. Four days later, the immigration minister canceled his visa again, sending Djokovic back to the same Melbourne hotel he was holed up in.
The Serbian tennis star faces deportation again and could be banned from Australia for three years.
“I won’t lie. It has been pretty much on every news outlet the last couple of weeks. It has received a lot of attention. A lot of people are obviously talking about it,” Stefanos Tsitsipas said. “That’s why I’m here to talk about tennis. … Not enough tennis has been talked about in the last couple of weeks, which is a shame.”
The start of the tennis season is looking to begin with a rocky start. While Djokovic’s saga has been the main talking point, the tournament will not have Roger Federer, either Williams sister or Naomi Osaka.
Defending men’s champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia practices at Rod Laver Arena ahead of the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Jan. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Mark Baker, File)
The tournament begins Monday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.