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Rafael Nadal on Novak Djokovic Being Held in Australia: 'He Knew the Conditions'

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 6, 2022

Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates his victory in his men's singles match against Ricardas Berankis of Lituania at the Melbourne Summer Set tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 6, 2022. - -- IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE -- (Photo by Mike FREY / AFP) / -- IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE -- (Photo by MIKE FREY/AFP via Getty Images)
MIKE FREY/AFP via Getty Images

Rafael Nadal stressed the importance of vaccines and said Novak Djokovic knew what the rules were ahead of the Australian Open when he was asked about the situation surrounding the No. 1 men's player in the world ahead of the tournament.

Tumaini Carayol of the Guardian shared Nadal's comments:

Tumaini Carayol @tumcarayol

Nadal was also asked if he feels sorry for Djokovic. I think it's fair to say that the sympathy is limited...<br><br>"In some way I feel sorry for him. But at the same time, he knew the conditions since a lot of months ago, so he<br>makes his own decision." <a href="https://t.co/DvQvAxrdbz">pic.twitter.com/DvQvAxrdbz</a>

Notably, Nadal said he feels sorry for Djokovic "in some way" but pointed out "he made his own decisions, and everybody is free to take their own decisions, but then there are some consequences."

Nadal, who is vaccinated, also said, "From my point of view, that's the only thing that I can say is I believe in what the people who know about medicine say, and if the people say that we need to get vaccinated, we need to get the vaccine."

He also empathized with the potential crowds at the Australian Open, saying, "It's normal that the people here in Australia get very frustrated with the [Djokovic] case because they have been going through a lot of very hard lockdowns, and a lot of people were not able to come back home."

George Ramsay of CNN provided more details about the situation, noting Djokovic's visa to enter Australia was canceled and he was not permitted entrance at the border.

Australian prime minister Scott Morrison said the tennis star "didn't have a valid medical exemption" that would allow him to bypass the vaccination requirement to enter the country.

From Djokovic's perspective, his legal team is seeking an urgent injunction against that decision that would allow him to enter Australia and play in the year's first major tournament. The Australian Federal Court adjourned any decision until Monday.

It would be quite the development if Djokovic isn't allowed to play.

After all, he is tied with Nadal and Roger Federer with 20 grand slam titles and would miss an opportunity to add to his total. He is also the three-time defending champion in this tournament and has nine Australian Open titles on his illustrious resume.

While Nadal has won 20 majors, he has just one championship at this event and lost in the final to Djokovic in 2012 and again in 2019.

Djokovic's status for this year's tournament will likely remain the primary storyline whether he competes or not.