Barbara Schett has said that other players have the “same opinion” as Stefanos Tsitsipas when it comes to Novak Djokovic, with the world No 1 currently embroiled in a legal battle against deportation from Australia.
On Friday, Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke announced that the world No 1’s visa would be revoked for a second time. Djokovic initially had his visa cancelled on arrival in Melbourne last week, after Australian border officials refused to accept the reasons for the medical exemption which was meant to allow him to compete at the Australian Open despite remaining unvaccinated.
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After a spell in detention at Melbourne’s Park Hotel, he won a court appeal against the decision which allowed him to temporarily extend his stay in Australia. On Friday, however, Hawke exercised his ministerial power to cancel Djokovic’s visa on public interest grounds.
Tsitsipas was strongly critical of Djokovic earlier this week, saying: “He has been playing by his own rules. No-one would have thought: ‘I can come to Australia unvaccinated and not have to follow the protocols they gave me.’
“For Novak it worked another way. It takes a lot of daring to do.
“Putting a Grand Slam at risk – I don’t think many players would do that.”
Tsitsipas, the world No 4, also suggested that Djokovic had undermined his fellow players in their efforts to adhere to Australia’s strict vaccine protocols. “There are two ways to look at it – one way is that almost every single player has been vaccinated and did what they had to do in order to come and play in Australia,” he went on.
“We have all followed the protocols to come and compete in Australia and been very disciplined in that.
“It seems like not everyone is playing by the rules of how Tennis Australia and some governments have been putting things.
“A very small minority chose to follow their own way. It makes the majority look like they are all fools.”
Asked how other players had reacted to the news that Djokovic again faces the prospect of deportation, Eurosport anchor Schett said: “The players who I’ve been talking to at the tournaments in Adelaide and in Sydney, they were sharing the same opinion of the likes of Stefanos Tsitsipas.
“Most of them, they didn’t want to really talk to newspapers or make official statements, which is their choice. But they all said that they kind of knew that they have to follow certain rules and regulations.
“They knew six months ago, if they wanted to play at the Australian Open or enter Australia, that they have to be vaccinated. And they were not happy that Novak Djokovic tried to enter Australia with certain rules, with the medical exemption.
“And then so many other things popped up and the longer this whole procedure has taken with Novak Djokovic, the more you could really tell and feel from the players that they were thinking: if Novak Djokovic gets to enter Australia and gets to compete at the Australian Open, we’re idiots. That’s what they were thinking.”
Djokovic’s lawyers are appealing the decision to revoke his visa for a second time but, if that fails, he will be forced to leave the country. The world No 1 hoped to win his 21st Grand Slam title in Australia, a record-breaking feat that would put him ahead of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
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