As Novak Djokovic was forced to wait out a hearing on his bid to avoid deportation from Australia, Rafael Nadal addressed the situation surrounding one of his fiercest competitors.
Speaking to reporters, Nadal said that he feels “sorry” for Djokovic ahead of the 2022 Australian Open but added that Djokovic has long been aware of the COVID-19 vaccine requirements needed to enter the country.
“He made his own decisions, and everybody is free to take their own decisions, but then there are some consequences,” Nadal said. “Of course, I don’t like the situation that is happening. In some way, I feel sorry for him. But at the same time, he knew the conditions since a lot of months ago, so he makes his own decision.”
Djokovic was confined to an immigration detention hotel in Australia on Thursday as he awaited a court ruling on whether he can compete in the first major championship of the year later this month.
A federal judge will take up the case next week and a lawyer for the Australian government said he should not be deported before then.
Djokovic, who like Nadal and Roger Federer currently has 20 major singles titles, traveled to the country after Victoria state authorities granted him a medical exemption to the country’s strict vaccination requirements. However, upon arrival on Wednesday, Australian Border Force rejected his exemption as invalid and barred him from entering the country.
Djokovic has has not publicly revealed his vaccination status, but Australian prime minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday that Djokovic “didn’t have a valid medical exemption” to the vaccination requirement for arrivals.
“I went through the COVID,” Nadal said. “I have been vaccinated twice. If you do this, you don’t have any problem playing here. That’s the only clear thing. The rest of the things, I don’t want to have or to give to you an opinion that I don’t have the whole information. The only clear thing for me is if you are vaccinated, you can play in the Australian Open and everywhere, and the world in my opinion has been suffering enough to not follow the rules.”
As noted by the Associated Press, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said his government has asked that Djokovic be allowed to move to a house he has rented and “not to be in that infamous hotel.”
Djokovic’s mother, Dijana, said that, “I feel terrible since yesterday that they are keeping him as a prisoner. It’s not fair. It’s not human. I hope that he will win.”
Djokovic has won the Australian Open nine times, including last year.
Nadal is returning to action in Australia for the first time in five months due to a foot injury. He also tested posted for COVID-19 in December.