Naomi Osaka Says Novak Djokovic Saga “Sad” As Players Demand Focus Back On Tennis

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Defending Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka called the Novak Djokovic saga “unfortunate” and “sad” on Saturday as players complained the scandal was overshadowing the year’s inaugural Grand Slam. Unvaccinated world number one Djokovic was arrested again in Australia after authorities tore up his visa for the second time and declared him a threat to the public. He faces deportation and his chances of defending his men’s title at Melbourne Park look increasingly slim.

His lawyers are fighting to keep him in the country in a controversy that has been going on for more than a week.

Four-time Grand Slam winner Osaka said she didn’t know the Serb well, but she was sad that she might be as he would be remembered, rather than his exploits on the court.

“I think it’s an unfortunate situation. He’s a great player and it’s a bit sad that some people remember him this way,” she said, two days before the start of the tournament.

World number four Stefanos Tsitsipas criticized the 20-time Grand Slam winner and rival earlier this week, saying he was “playing by his own rules”.

But he was reluctant to get involved again on Saturday.

“I am here to talk about tennis, not about Novak Djokovic,” said the Greek star.

But she added: “I won’t lie. He’s been pretty much all over the media in the last few weeks. He’s gotten a lot of attention. A lot of people are obviously talking about it.”

“That’s why I’m here to talk about tennis. There hasn’t been enough talk about tennis in recent weeks, which is a shame.”

Australia’s men’s main hope Alex de Minaur is also growing weary of the situation, saying he was detracting from the tournament and other players.

“First of all, this whole situation has taken a lot of attention away from the competitors. We are here to play the Australian Open.”

“It seems like it’s taking away competitors who just want to get started.”

When asked if Djokovic was the author of his own death, he replied: “Look, Australians have been through a lot. There’s no secret about it. They’ve been through a lot.”

“They have worked very hard to protect themselves and their borders. When you arrive, like any other tennis player, if you wanted to enter the country, you had to get vaccinated twice.”

“It was up to him, up to his choices, up to his judgment. Here we are.”

Former world number one Andy Murray, who will play at the Open, said on Friday that he hoped Djokovic’s condition would be clarified.

“It seems like it’s gone on for a long time and it’s not good for tennis, it’s not good for the Australian Open, it’s not good for Novak,” Murray said.

But he added: “I’m not going to sit here and start kicking Novak while he’s down.”

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