By Richard Pagliaro | Thursday, January 13, 2022
Stefanos Tsitsipas came up slightly short in a pulsating five-set Roland Garros loss to Novak Djokovic last June.
Tsitsipas comes with candor and depth assessing Djokovic’s ongoing medical exemption and visa saga today.
The fourth-ranked Greek says the world No. 1 is “playing by his own rules” in receiving a medical exemption as an unvaccinated player when the ATP reports 97 of the world’s Top 100-ranked men are vaccinated (American Tennys Sandgren and 112th-ranked Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert have said they are unvaccinated, and neither is playing the Melbourne major).
Tsitsipas said nine-time AO champion Djokovic competing at the Australian Open after the Australian government ruled players must be fully vaxxed to play “kind of makes the majority look like fools.”
“For sure, he’s been playing by his own rules and has been doing what not many players had the guts to do, especially after the ATP announced certain criteria for players to enter the country,” Tsitsipas told India’s WION news.
“No one really thought they could come to Australia unvaccinated and not having to follow the protocols… it takes a lot of daring to do and putting the Grand Slam at risk, which I don’t think many players would do.”
The 34-year-old Serbian remains in legal limbo. Australian government officials are “still preparing” a case to cancel Djokovic’s visa and send him packing out of Australia, The Herald Sun reports. However, the AO draw was conducted on Thursday with Djokovic planted as top seed while Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke holds the world No. 1’s fate in his hands. Hawke’s spokesperson told Australian media he is “thoroughly” considering all factors in the case before ruling whether to cancel the Serbian’s visa or not.
Tsitsipas asserts you can view Djokovic’s participation in the AO in one of two ways: either he’s making a mockery of the nation’s laws and causing a possible health risk by playing unvaccinated or the world No. 1 is simply following the rule Tennis Australia stated to him and all players and choosing to follow his own path.
“There are two ways to look at it. One side of it is that almost every single player is fully vaccinated… and 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.
“I chose to go and be 100 percent ready for whatever was to come and not having to think about anything else. For me, it worked one way, 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 perception about it.”
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