Tennis

Stefanos Tsitsipas wades into Novak Djokovic controversy – ‘Playing by his own rules’

Djokovic admits attending interview while Covid positive

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Stefanos Tsitsipas has suggested that Novak Djokovic is making his fellow Australian Open hopefuls look like ‘fools’ by refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19 ahead of the tournament. The Serb has been embroiled in plenty of controversy since touching down in Australia earlier this month and could still be deported from the country despite being included as the top seed in the first round draw.

Djokovic will defend his title against compatriot Miomir Kecmanovic if he is not ordered to leave Australia between now and the start of the tournament, which is set to get underway next week.

He was initially detained following his arrival in the country after seeing his visa revoked due to concerns over the vaccine exemption that would have allowed him to gain entry.

However, the decision was quickly overturned by a judge, who ordered the player’s release at a court hearing on Monday.

There is still a chance that further action could be taken, though, with Australia’s immigration minister Alex Hawke retaining the power to cancel Djokovic’s visa for a second time.

Tsitsipas, who reached the semi-finals of last year’s Australian Open, has since weighed in by insisting that Djokovic can only blame himself for risking his participation in the tournament.

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“For sure he’s been playing by his own rules and has been doing something that not many players have the guts to go and do, especially after the ATP announced certain criteria for players to enter the country,” Tsitsipas told WION.

“No one would have really thought: ‘I can come to Australia unvaccinated and not have to follow the protocols they gave me’.

“It takes a lot of daring to do I think, putting a Grand Slam at risk, I don’t think a lot of players would do that.

“I chose to go and be 100 per cent ready for whatever was to come, not having to think about anything else. For Novak it worked another way.

“That doesn’t really mean that my way is the right one and his way is the wrong one. It’s just each person’s decision about it.”

Tsitsipas went on to reflect on the impact of Djokovic’s choices on the other players at the Australian Open, with the vast majority having already been vaccinated in order to ensure their places in the draw.

“There’s two ways to look at it,” he added. “One way is every single player, almost, the stats say 98 per cent of the players, have been vaccinated.

“They did what they had to do to perform and play in Australia. So one side of it is, yeah we’ve all followed the protocols in order to compete in Australia, who have been very disciplined in that part.

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“In the other sense I’d say, it kind of seems like not everyone is playing by the rules of how Tennis Australia or some governments have been putting things.

“And a very small minority of that percentage chose to follow their own way which kind of makes the rest, the majority, look like they’re all fools or something.”

Djokovic will become the most decorated male tennis player in history if he manages to seal a record-breaking 10th title in Melbourne over the coming weeks.

He has already racked up no less than 20 Grand Slam triumphs over the course of his career, putting him on level terms with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at the top of the order.

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