Greek tennis star Stefanos Tsitsipas gave his verdict on Novak Djokovic amid his Australian Open visa saga
Tennis world number four Stefanos Tsitsipas has said Novak Djokovic is “playing by his own rules” by arriving in Melbourne unvaccinated ahead of the Australian Open.
Djokovic arrived Down Under with a medical exemption which he thought was enough to allow him to defend his record ninth title in Melbourne.
As Australian Border Force officers disagreed, however, the 34-year-old was detained and had his visa canceled before a court overturned that decision on Monday.
The drama continues to unfold, with Djokovic admitting in a statement there was incorrect information on his travel documents while Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has reserved the right to cancel his visa again – potentially on Friday.
Meanwhile, fellow professionals continue to be asked to give their thoughts on the situation, including Greek ace Tsitsipas, who was Djokovic’s victim in the 2021 French Open final.
The 23-year-old said his Serbian rival has been “playing by his own rules” while doing “what not many players had the guts to do, especially after the ATP announced certain criteria for players to enter the country.”
“No one really thought they could come to Australia unvaccinated and not having to follow the protocols,” he pointed out to India’s WION news channel.
“It takes a lot of daring to do and putting the Grand Slam at risk, which I don’t think many players would do,” he added regarding Djokovic’s quest for a record 21st Grand Slam title.
Punchy from Stefanos Tsitsipas who says Novak Djokovic has been “playing by his own rules”.”We’ve all followed the protocols to compete in Australia… and a very small minority chose to follow their own way which makes [us] look like fools.”#AusOpenpic.twitter.com/9pT69IBUdU
— James Gray (@jamesgraysport) January 13, 2022
Djokovic almost achieved this in 2021 until failing to overcome Daniil Medvedev in the US Open final.
With one more Major title, Djokovic would surpass fellow greats Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the all-time standings.
When asked if Djokovic should be allowed to start defending his crown next week, however, after having already been drawn against Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round, Tsitsipas said that there are “two ways to look at it”.
“One side of it is that almost every single player is fully vaccinated… and [they] have followed the protocols to play in Australia.
“On the other hand, it seems not everyone is playing by the rules… a very small majority chose to follow their own way, which kind of makes the majority look like fools,” he claimed.
Though Tsitsipas is reported as having received the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine by Greek state broadcaster ERT, he was previously criticized by his country’s government for stating during the Cincinnati Masters that he would not get his jabs unless the ATP made it mandatory, and also claiming that the spread of Covid would be “good”.
“He does not have the knowledge and studies to assess the need for vaccinations,” said spokesperson Giannis Oikonomou.
“Stefanos Tsitsipas is a great athlete, his skills in sports and his contribution to sports in the country [are] unquestionable.
“What is at stake, however, is his ability to assess the need for vaccinations or whether the vaccine has been tested for a sufficient period of time,” Oikonomou went on.
“He has neither the knowledge nor the studies nor the research work that would allow him to form an opinion about it.”
Drawn to face Mikael Ymer of Sweden on Monday, Tsitsipas looks to improve on his semi-final showings in the 2019 and 2021 editions of the Australian Open this time round.