Rafael Nadal has described the ongoing controversy with his rival Novak Djokovic as “a circus.”
“Whether or not I agree with Djokovic on something, justice has spoken and has said he has the right to participate in the Australian Open and I think it is the fairest decision to do so,” Nadal told Spanish radio station Onda Cero on Monday.
Nadal last week said that he feels “sorry” for Djokovic ahead of the Australian Open but added that his rival has long been aware of the vaccine requirement to play in the tournament.
Djokovic is tied with Nadal and Roger Federer on 20 grand slam titles.
Nadal joked Monday: “Well, on a personal level, I much prefer he doesn’t play!”
“At the end of the day it’s sports, and there’s a lot of interests around sports, on a general level, on an economic level, on a publicity level and in that sense it’s always better when the best are playing, because it generates more interest,” he quickly added. “Egoistically speaking, for our sport it’s better when the best in the world are on the court competing than anywhere else.”
Virus has “changed our lives”: Nadal said that despite the “circus” that had been created around Djokovic, that he had no doubt about the seriousness of Covid-19.
“There’s something that’s clear, for all the debate that there may be, which is that there are millions of deaths worldwide, because of a virus – this is a reality,” he said
“What I don’t have any doubt about is that this virus has changed all of our lives.”
Nadal added that when it came to health he sought to listen to those that knew more than he did.
“I know about tennis, less about other things,” he said.
“All the most important global institutions, governments, science say that the vaccine is the way to stop this pandemic and the disaster we have lived through for nearly 20 months and I try to follow their advice.”
“I don’t feel more intelligent or less intelligent for doing it,” he said, reiterating that he believed people should be afforded a choice, while adding that actions have consequences.
Live updates: Novak Djokovic can remain in Australia, court rules