Rafael Nadal Australian Open 2022

‘Better for everyone if he plays’ – Rafael Nadal wishes Novak Djokovic played Australian Open

Rafael Nadal believes it would be “better for the sport” if Novak Djokovic was allowed to compete at the Australian Open and feels “the ideal situation is that the best players play the most important events.”

The two 20-time Grand Slam champions share opposing views with regards to the Covid-19 vaccination. Spaniard Nadal is pro-vaccine, whilst Serbian Djokovic is anti-vaccine. As such, Djokovic found himself embroiled at the heart of controversy.

Djokovic’s medical exemption was deemed insufficient upon his arrival and his visa was then cancelled. Whilst he fought the decision in court and had his visa reinstated, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke superseded the court’s ruling and terminated his visa once more.

This time the decision was upheld unanimously by three judges and Djokovic is now banned from Australia for three years.

As a result of this drama, Nadal is currently the only one of the ‘Big Three’ currently competing at the Australian Open as Swiss Maestro Roger Federer is still recovering from knee surgery and may make a comeback at Wimbledon.

Should Nadal claim his second Australian Open title, he will be the first of the three to reach 21 Slam titles in the race to finish as the most successful male player ever. All three currently boast a historic 20 Slams.

Nadal began his ‘Happy Slam’ bid with a straight-set win against American Marcos Giron.

In a post-match press conference, Nadal said “if the justice says his visa is valid and he’s able to play here, the justice has spoken, so that’s the fairest thing, that he deserves to play here. Yesterday, the justice said another thing. I will never be against what the justice says.

“Another thing is what I believe personally, and what I believe is [this] the ideal situation personally, no? The ideal situation in the world of sport is that the best players are on court and playing the most important events, without a doubt. That’s better for the sport, without a doubt.

“If Novak Djokovic is playing here, it is better for everybody, no doubt about that. Another thing is what happened. As I said in the beginning, I can’t say another thing because I believe that the situation is very clear now.

“He’s not the only one that probably did the things bad in that case.

“Of course, there are more [parties] responsible in this terrible situation that we faced for the last two weeks. But of course, he is one of those responsible, too.

“So on a personal level, yes, I would like to see him playing here. If it is fair or not that he’s playing here is another discussion that I don’t want to talk any more about.”

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Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.