Rafael Nadal Novak Djokovic ATP

Rafael Nadal says Novak Djokovic decision ‘…will affect him, not the Grand Slams’

Rafael Nadal would “welcome” Novak Djokovic if he is allowed to compete at Grand Slams unvaccinated, but recognises Djokovic’s decision “will affect his history” and people “must live with their decisions.”

In the absence of both 20-time Slam legends Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, Spaniard Nadal pipped both of them to a record-breaking 21st Major title.

Swiss maestro Federer missed out as he recovers from a third knee surgery, whilst Djokovic was deported over fears he may stoke anti-vaccination sentiment if he was allowed to compete unvaccinated.

This revelation of Djokovic’s vaccination status was revealed in the legal proceedings as he fought the initial cancellation of his medical exemption visa.

Nadal and Djokovic have been on opposing sides of the spectrum when it comes to vaccinations. Nadal is pro-vaccine, whilst Djokovic is unvaccinated.

In a frank interview with the BBC, Djokovic announced that he intends to remain unvaccinated and is willing to sacrifice Slams should vaccination be made mandatory for entry. This would make the Serbian the only unvaccinated player within the ATP top 100.

Meanwhile, two years ago when the Covid-19 pandemic was at it’s peak Nadal established a Red Cross initiative in which he and multiple other Spanish sportspeople donated up to €11 million ($12.5 million or £9 million) to help combat the devastation caused.

In the past, the Spaniard has also been critical of those who choose to remain unvaccinated but ultimately respects their decision.

In a press conference before his opening Mexican Open fixture, Nadal was asked about how Djokovic’s decision will affect the history of the Grand Slams.

To which Nadal replied “it will affect Novak’s [Grand Slam] history if he can’t play. It will affect him, not the Grand Slams themselves.

“Whoever wins the most Slams – it will be what it will be. Everyone takes their own decisions and must live with them.

“In that sense, hopefully the pandemic subsides and we stop having so many deaths around the world and this horror ends, and we can return to normality – not for Novak but for the world in general.

“There are many people that have suffered, but if Novak can play the Grand Slams unvaccinated, then he is welcome.”

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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.