By Richard Pagliaro | Thursday, November 17, 2022
Rivals Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic took disparate positions on the Coronavirus.
The iconic champions are on the same page when it comes to Djokovic’s impending return to Australia.
Asked his reaction to the Australian government reinstating Djokovic’s visa that will permit the 35-year-old Serbian to play the 2023 Australian Open, Nadal pointed to big-picture benefits of Djokovic’s return.
Reigning Australian Open champion Nadal said he’s happy nine-time champion Djokovic will play Melbourne because tennis is best when the best are competing—and because the legal imbroglio over Djokovic’s Australian status last year was a bad look for the sport.
“I always said the same: tennis is better when the best players are on the court,” Nadal told the media in Turin today after defeating Casper Ruud, 7-5, 7-5 in his final match of the season. “At the end we don’t have to create many stories. Even if was a big mess what happened last year in Australia, was not good for our sport. That was past.
“Roger is not playing any more. I missed lot of Grand Slams for injuries. Last year Novak was not able to play there. That’s past. What’s next is Novak will be able to play again. That’s the best news possible, especially knowing that now the virus is more under control—seems—around the world. So why not? Happy for him. Happy for the tournament. Happy for the fans. That’s it.”
Twenty-one time Grand Slam champion Djokovic will ride a 21-match AO winning streak into his Melbourne return with massive major history on the line. If Djokovic captures his 10th Australian Open title he will equal Grand Slam king Nadal with 22 major titles.
“Of course, I was very happy to receive the news yesterday,” Djokovic told the media in Turin. “It was a relief obviously knowing what I and people closest to me in my life have been through this year with what happened in Australia and post Australia obviously. I could not have received better news for sure – during this tournament as well.”
“I was very happy to receive the news yesterday. It was a relief obviously knowing what I and people closest to me in my life have been through this year with what happened in Australia and post Australia obviously. I could not receive better news for sure.”
Novak on Australia
— TennisNow (@Tennis_Now) November 16, 2022
“Did it affect my game today? I would like to believe it did,” Djokovic said after raising his round-robin record to 2-0. “Why not?”
Photo credit: Mark Peterson/Corleve
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