Novak Djokovic Australian Open 2022

Novak Djokovic ‘clearly not an example for young people’ claims Rome Masters tournament director

Sergio Palmieri has branded Novak Djokovic a “controversial character” following his Australian Open deportation and reveals it is “up to him” whether he competes at the Rome Masters this year.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion’s chances of becoming the first male player to win 21 Major titles were dealt a blow this week after his medical exemption and visa saga reached a conclusion for now.

After Djokovic successfully appealing his medical exemption and visa cancelation once, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke took the executive decision to terminate his visa once more.

Djokovic then had a second appeal rejected after the decision was unanimously upheld by three judges.

In the legal proceedings, it was confirmed that the world number one not vaccinated against Covid.

The 2021 French Open champion also now has major doubts over defending his title when it was announced that French parliament voted to approve vaccination passes that would require proof or a certificate of full vaccination.

Whilst French Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu previously said Djokovic would be able to compete at Roland Garros regardless of his vaccination status, the newly-approved stricter measures will apply to elite sportsmen, with no exemptions given specifically to athletes.

Speaking to Italian radio station Radio Anch’io Sport, Palmieri said: “[Djokovic] is a controversial character, he takes a stand and he puts himself out there.

“Certainly, he is not an example for young people approaching this sport; from this point of view, he has not reached Roger [Federer] and Rafa [Nadal’s] stature.

“I have a long-standing relationship with Novak and he is a different person from the one he appears to be from the outside.

“He has a very strong personality and he will overcome this challenge.

On the question of Djokovic playing the 2022 Rome Masters, Palmieri had this to say: “It’s up to him. If he were to sign up and be compliant with all the [Covid] rules, we will have no problems to accept him and no reason not to do so.”

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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.