‘Little bit tired’: Rafael Nadal frustrated as Djokovic saga continues to overshadow Australian Open

Rafael Nadal says the Australian Open will still be “great” if Novak Djokovic is forced out of the tournament, admitting he is a “little bit tired” of the controversy surrounding his rival.

Djokovic’s participation in the season-opening major, which begins at Melbourne Park on Monday, remains uncertain after his visa was cancelled for a second time on Friday evening.

The Federal Court will hear his appeal against his visa cancellation on Sunday at 9.30am AEDT.

Nadal said Djokovic was not bigger than the Australian Open.

“[The] Australian Open is much more important than any player,” he said.

“If he’s playing finally, OK. If he’s not playing, [the] Australian Open will be great, with or without him. That’s my point of view.”

Nadal, who tested positive to COVID-19 last month, said he believed he and Djokovic enjoy a “good relationship”.

But Nadal said the men’s world number one had chosen “his road” by not getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

“I wish him all the best. I really respect him, even if I [do] not agree with a lot of things that he did the last couple of weeks,” he said.

Nadal said he hoped the media attention would soon turn back to the Australian Open.

“Honestly, I’m little bit tired of the situation because I just believe that it’s important to talk about our sport, about tennis,” he said.

Men’s world number four Stefanos Tsitsipas, who lost last year’s French Open final to Djokovic, said he would also prefer to be talking about the upcoming fortnight of tennis in Melbourne.

“I won’t lie, It has been pretty much on every news outlet the last couple of weeks,” he said.

“It has received a lot of attention. A lot of people are obviously talking about it. That’s why I’m here to talk about tennis.

“It has received a lot of attention, as I said. Not enough tennis has been talked about in the last couple of weeks, which is a shame.”

De Minaur ready to focus on tennis

Australian men’s number one Alex De Minaur said he was frustrated by the ongoing focus on Djokovic.

“This whole situation has taken a lot of spotlight away from us competitors,” he said.

“It feels like it’s taking away from us competitors who just want to start.

“I’m just ready to put all of this behind me and focus on playing my tennis matches, kind of let my tennis do the talking.

“At the end of the day, tennis is an individual sport and we’ve all been here in Australia for a while getting ready for this tournament.

“We all just want to get on with our own stuff.”

De Minaur himself was ill with COVID-19 last year, with his form and rankings sliding as he struggled to fully recover.

The men’s 32nd seed appeared to have little sympathy for Djokovic, saying he had made his choice not to vaccinate.

“Australians have gone through a lot. There’s no secret about that,” de Minaur said.

“They’ve had it very tough. They’ve done a lot of work to protect themselves and their borders.

“Here we are.”

Defending women’s champion Naomi Osaka was reluctant to speak about Djokovic when asked for her opinion about his visa cancellation.

“Honestly for me, in a way I don’t really think my thoughts are important,” she said.

“Even if I say what I think, I’ve seen people say one side, I’ve seen people say the other side. I also know one person’s opinion isn’t going to change anything, it’s just going to cause controversy.

“I think it’s an unfortunate situation. He’s such a great player and it’s kind of sad that some people might remember in this way.

“But I also think it’s up to not tennis players, it’s up to the government how Australia is deciding to handle it.”


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