Rafael Nadal would rather Novak Djokovic NOT play at Australian Open in fresh comment

Andrew Castle speaks on Djokovic's arrest

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Rafael Nadal has said he “would rather” Novak Djokovic not play at the upcoming Australian Open. World No 1 Djokovic has been freed from his immigration hotel in Melbourne after Judge Kelly overturned the cancelling of his visa in court on Monday. However, the saga is far from over.

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The Australian Open starts in seven days’ time and Djokovic’s participation is still in doubt.

Reports from Serbia claim the 34-year-old has been re-arrested.

The case could return to court and Australia’s immigration minister Alex Hawke could decide to deport Djokovic.

Djokovic has not been vaccinated against COVID-19, a decision Nadal criticised last week.

Speaking to Spanish radio station Onda Cero, Nadal has jokingly said he would rather not have to play against Djokovic in the first Grand Slam of the year.

“I’d rather Djokovic not play at the Australian Open,” Nadal said while laughing.

“(But) in the end in sports there are many economical interests, so it’s best when top players are competing.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Nadal claimed the decision to uncancel Djokovic’s visa was “correct” and that “justice has spoken”.

Nadal and Djokovic are tied with Roger Federer on 20 Grand Slam singles titles each.

Djokovic won three slams in 2020 to equal Nadal and Federer’s record tally in men’s tennis.

Last week, Nadal seemed to have little sympathy for Djokovic after he was detained upon entering Australia.

“If he wanted, he would be playing without a problem,” Nadal said at a press conference.

“He has taken his own position and everybody is free to take their position. But there are consequences. I don’t like the situation. In some ways, I feel sorry for him.

“But he knew the conditions months ago. He made his own decision.”

Nadal has been vaccinated and was understanding of the Australian government’s approach.

He added: “It is normal that people in Australia would be frustrated because they have gone through hard lockdowns. People were not able to come back.

“I believe in what the people who know about medicine say. If they say we need to get vaccinated? Then we need to get vaccinated. That’s my point of view.

“I have been through COVID-19. I got vaccinated twice.

“If you do this, you don’t have any problems to play here. That’s the only clear thing. The clear thing is – if you are vaccinated, you can play in the Australian Open.”

Nadal warmed up for the Australian Open by winning the Melbourne Summer Set on Sunday.

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