Novak Djokovic’s coach says the decision to deport the world No. 1 from Australia was “unjust” and “will hurt him for a long time”.
The Djokovic saga grabbed headlines across the world after the Serb touched down for the Australian Open unvaccinated but with a medical exemption. His initial visa was cancelled, re-approved by a judge, then revoked again by Australian immigration minister Alex Hawke.
The protracted case finally ended on Sunday when Djokovic failed to overturn his visa cancellation for a second time.
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Now his long-time coach, Marian Vajda, has broken his silence on the furore and defended his star player.
“I can’t imagine how he handled it. It must have been a huge suffering,” Vajda told Slovakian site Aktuality.sk.
“He humbly endured all measures. But what they did to him must mark him. It is clear that it hit him mentally. It will hurt him for a long time and it will be difficult to get it out of his head.
“However, I know him very well. Novak is strong, resolute and has not yet said his last word in tennis.”
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Vajda has coached Djokovic since 2006, except for a one-year break, and has been part of the team for all 20 Grand Slam titles.
“I needed to calm down. I still don’t understand why they did it to him,” Vajda continued.
“It was an unhealthy and unjust decision, based on the assumption that Djokovic could do or influence something that had not yet happened.”
Djokovic is chasing a men’s record 21st major title, with the Serb currently level with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the overall charts.
However, his charge has hit a stumbling block due to his vaccination status, with the French government also ruling athletes must be vaccinated for the French Open in May. It is unclear whether similar rules will be imposed for Wimbledon and the US Open.
“I don’t understand … why it’s important for them to announce this now about the tournaments that will take place in May, when the world doesn’t even know what will happen to the pandemic in a month,” said Vajda.
“I do not want to underestimate the whole situation. It is serious in the world. But what is the purpose of discussing it now in January? Is it still about sport?”
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