Greek tennis pro Stefanos Tsitsipas says Novak Djokovic is “playing by his own rules” as he continues to fight for an opportunity to compete at the Australian Open next week despite major pushback over his vaccination status.
Tsitsipas spoke about Djokovic’s situation in an interview with WION Wednesday, saying not many players would’ve taken the risk to miss the Grand Slam tournament by not following the Australian government’s strict COVID-19 policies.
“For sure he has been playing by his own rules and has been doing something that not many players had the guts to go and do, especially after the ATP announced certain criteria for players to enter the country,” he said.
“No one would’ve really thought, ‘I could just come to Australia unvaccinated and not have to follow the protocols they give me.’ It takes a lot of daring to do, I think, and putting the Grand Slam at risk, which I don’t think many players would do.”
Djokovic applied for a medical exemption on the basis that he had contracted COVID-19 Dec. 16. Upon arrival in Melbourne, he was detained and questioned regarding his exemption and his visa was eventually canceled. Facing deportation, Djokovic’s visa was reinstated by a federal judge over procedural grounds on Monday, but he still faces the possibility of having to leave the country.
“I choose to go and be 100% ready for whatever was to come and not have to think about anything else,” Tsitsipas said. “For me it worked that 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.”
Tsitsipas gave a vague answer when asked if he felt Djokovic should be allowed to participate.
“It kind of seems like not everyone is playing by the rules … and a very small [minority] of [players] chose to follow their own way, which kind of makes the … majority look like they’re all fools, or something.”
Australian Open organizers included Djokovic in the draw Thursday, and he is slated to play fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic, who is ranked 78th in the world, in the opening round next week.