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Australian Open favorites talk Novak Djokovic saga: ‘It all could have been avoided’


The Novak Djokovic visa controversy overshadowed the start of the Australian Open, and some competitors are done with the whole ordeal.

Rafael Nadal, among the favorites to win the Australian Open, admitted he was “a bit tired of the situation”.

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Rafael Nadal of Spain gestures during a press conference ahead of the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia on Saturday January 15, 2022.
(AP Photo/Simon Baker)

“The Australian Open is much more important than any player. If he plays, well, okay. If he doesn’t play, the Australian Open will be a great Australian Open, with or without him. That’s my point of view,” said the 20-times great champion.

Garbiñe Muguruza, the No. 3 seed on the Australian Open women’s side, said she believed the whole situation was avoidable.

“All of this could have been avoided, as we all did, by getting vaccinated, doing whatever we had to do to come here to Australia. Everyone knew the rules very clearly. Just follow them and that’s all. I don’t think it’s that hard,” she said.

DJOKOVIC BACK IN DETENTION, CONTINUES TO FIGHT DEPORTATION

Australian Open favorites talk Novak Djokovic saga: ‘It all could have been avoided’

Garbiñe Muguruza of Spain prepares to forehand Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic during a WTA Finals tennis match in Guadalajara, Mexico on Friday, November 12, 2021. Muguruza is ranked No. 3 at the Australian Open, the Grand Slam tennis tournament scheduled to start on Monday, January 17, 2022.
(AP Photo/Refugio Ruiz, File)

Djokovic was deemed eligible to be in Australia and play the Open earlier in the week after a judge ruled his medical exemption to enter the country was valid. Four days later, the immigration minister canceled his visa again, sending Djokovic back to the same Melbourne hotel where he was locked up.

The Serbian tennis star is once again at risk of deportation and could be banned from Australia for three years.

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“I won’t lie. He’s been pretty much all over the media for the past few weeks. He’s gotten a lot of attention. Lots of people are obviously talking about him,” Stefanos Tsitsipas said. “That’s why I’m here to talk about tennis. … Tennis hasn’t been talked about enough in the last few weeks, which is a shame.”

The start of the tennis season promises to be difficult. While Djokovic’s saga has been the main talking point, the tournament won’t have Roger Federer, sister Williams or Naomi Osaka.

Australian Open favorites talk Novak Djokovic saga: ‘It all could have been avoided’

Reigning men’s champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia trains at the Rod Laver Arena ahead of the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, January 12, 2022.
(AP Photo/Mark Baker, File)

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The tournament starts on Monday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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