Former Australian Open champion Rafael Nadal claims that the upcoming edition of the Grand Slam will still be a ‘great’ one even if Novak Djokovic is not allowed to play.
Djokovic, the winner of the last three editions, has been taken into detention again on Saturday following orders from the Federal Circuit Court the previous night. This comes after the Australian government’s immigration minister Alex Hawke decided to cancel the player’s visa.
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The current World No 1’s trip to Australia has been tumultuous ever since he landed on January 5. Unvaccinated, he was detained on arrival despite being granted a medical exemption to enter the country.
He later won the court case allowing him out of detention.
A day after winning the legal battle, Djokovic had released a statement admitting that he had broken virus protocols and ‘made a mistake’ on the immigration form.
However, Hawke, who still had the option to deport the player, exercised his power on Friday.
A Federal Court hearing on Sunday will determine whether Djokovic, who has been vocal about his anti-vaccine stance, will be allowed to stay in the country.
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Meanwhile Nadal, who along with Roger Federer and Djokovic, has 20 Grand Slam titles, claims this year’s Slam will still be a memorable one even if the Serb isn’t allowed to defend his title.
“I tell you one thing, it’s very clear that Novak Djokovic is one of the best players of the history, without a doubt. But there is no one player in history that’s more important than an event, no?,” he said.
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“The players stays and then goes, and other players are coming. No one, even Roger, Novak, myself, Bjorn Borg who was amazing at his times, tennis keep going.
“Australian Open is much more important than any player. If he’s playing finally, okay. If he’s not playing, Australian Open will be great Australian Open with or without him. That’s my point of view.”
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Djokovic has the last three consecutive Australian Opens, beating Nadal, Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev respectively in the finals.
He was gunning for his 10th title at Melbourne Park.