Nadal in the lead, the players' annoyance over the Djokovic affair

Nadal in the lead, the players’ annoyance over the Djokovic affair

By with AFP

Faced with the excitement of the Djokovic affair, the other players of the Australian Open do not hide their annoyance at the behavior of the Serbian player

“The Australian Open is much more important than any player”: Rafael Nadal did not hide his annoyance on Saturday, two days before the start of the Australian Open, the first tournament of the Grand Slam of the year parasitized by the Novak Djokovic affair.

“It’s obvious that Novak Djokovic is one of the best players in history […] But the players come and go, nobody, not even Roger (Federer), Novak, me… Not even Björn Borg, stays. Tennis continues to move forward, ”recalled Rafael Nadal.

“Djoko”, who is seeking a 10th victory in Melbourne and a 21st Grand Slam title, which would be a record, could be expelled after an interim hearing scheduled for Sunday before a Federal Court.

“Talking about tennis”

Another player expected during this traditional “media day” before the tournament, the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, who had had harsh words the day before on an Indian media against the Serb, believing that he was playing “by his own rules » and made « the majority of players look like idiots ». “I’m here to talk about tennis, not Novak Djokovic,” warned the world No. 4 this time.

“I’m not going to lie. It has been in the headlines for the past two weeks. He received a lot of attention. A lot of people are obviously talking about it […]. We haven’t talked enough about tennis in the past two weeks, which is a shame,” he said.

Australian Alex de Minaur, 32nd in the world, admitted to being tired of this story, believing that it harms the tournament and other players: “This situation has diverted many spotlights from us, the players. We are here to play the Australian Open”.

“Australians have been through a lot” and “have had a very hard time” since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, he recalled.

Zverev and support

“They made a lot of effort to protect themselves and their borders,” he recalled, saying that to enter the country, “like all other players”, Djokovic had to “be fully vaccinated”.

Close to Djokovic, the German Alexander Zverev was one of the few to defend him, believing that he was being used as a scapegoat: “he’s a big name, a world-class superstar, someone you can trust serve, “lamented the world No. 3. “I don’t know the case well enough, but if it wasn’t Novak Djokovic, world No. 1, it wouldn’t make all this fuss,” he said.

The day before, Andy Murray had hoped that “everything would be resolved” before the start of the tournament: “it just feels like it’s been dragging on for a while now, it’s not great for tennis, not great for Australian Open, not great for Novak,” said the 34-year-old Scotsman.

Former world No. 1 Naomi Osaka called the Djokovic case “regrettable”: “But I also think it’s not up to tennis players, it’s up to the government to decide how Australia will manage that, ”concluded the Japanese, crowned twice in Melbourne, in 2019 and 2021.

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