Johanna Konta admits it was tough to see Novak Djokovic “hurting” during his battle to compete at the Australian Open, especially as he “tries really hard to do right by people”.
Djokovic was deported from Australia on the eve of the tournament after losing his appeal to remain in the country unvaccinated.
The world No. 1 was bidding to win a men’s record 21st Grand Slam title, with the Serb currently tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the all-time charts.
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“There are a lot of different elements to it,” said three-time major semi-finalist Konta in the Eurosport Cube.
“But I think overall it’s just a sad situation. It’s so sad to see someone who tries really hard to do right by people, right by fans, right by tournaments. He’s quite generous with his money and time to help.
“I think it’s unfortunate to see someone in that situation and hurting like that. Also, we would have loved to see Djokovic there playing for his 21st Grand Slam. It’s history and we want to be a part of that history.”
The Djokovic saga finally reached its conclusion on Sunday after his last-ditch visa appeal was rejected on the eve of the tournament.
A protracted case had seen his initial visa cancelled despite a medical exemption, re-approved by a judge, then revoked again by Australian immigration minister Alex Hawke. His legal team managed to get a second appeal into court but Djokovic lost.
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Meanwhile, seven-time Slam champion Mats Wilander has urged Djokovic to lead by example and get vaccinated.
Djokovic could also miss the French Open after the French government revealed athletes must be vaccinated to compete – further denting his hopes of finishing his career with the most majors in history.
“If you have to do it to continue your career and play tennis, then you’re going to have to do it. Or you’re going to have to stop. That’s it,” said Wilander.
“Novak Djokovic is at the height of his career. I think he needs to get vaccinated. He has a responsibility to the sport. Unless he just wants to walk away and quit, and that’s obviously his personal choice.”
Konta believes that Djokovic’s decision could be made for him if more tournaments impose vaccine mandates.
“The more these things happen, the narrower his decision will have to become,” she said.
Konta added: “Right now, he probably needs to take a bit of time to recover from what happened in Australia.
“That was a quite ordeal and we have no idea how much emotional stress and energy that took out of him. So I think he’s probably going to take some time, look after himself, spend time with his family and then reassess on how he wants to move forward.”
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