Rafael Nadal slammed rival Novak Djokovic on Saturday as the world number one fights deportation from Australia, saying: “The Australian Open is much more important than any one player.” Before the start of the first Grand Slam on Monday, Nadal told reporters at Melbourne Park: “The Australian Open is going to be a great Australian Open with or without him.” Djokovic is still in the draw to defend his title but faces deportation from the country before then after the Australian government canceled his visa for the second time, calling him a threat to public order.
The long saga over whether the unvaccinated Serb can stay in the country has overshadowed the first Grand Slam of the year, where Djokovic and Nadal would attempt to become the first man to win 21 majors.
Nadal said he respected Djokovic “as a person, of course, and as an athlete, without a doubt.”
But the Spaniard added: “I really respect him, although I don’t agree with a lot of the things he did in the last few weeks.”
Listen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.com
And he said the controversy had gone on too long.
“I think the situation has gone too far. Honestly, I’m a bit tired of the situation because I think it’s important to talk about our sport, about tennis,” Nadal said.