Greek tennis star Stefanos Tsitsipas believes Novak Djokovic “played by his own rules” when it came to preparing to enter Australia for the Australian Open.

“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,” Tsitsipas told India’s WIO News, per Fox Sports Australia.

On Monday, Djokovic won his appeal to have his visa reinstated after he was detained during a COVID-19 vaccine saga with the Australia Border Force [ABF] when he touched down in Melbourne last week.

A judge ordered for Djokovic to be released from a temporary hotel detention and threw out the cancellation of his visa. However, Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke could still deport Djokovic.

The world No. 4, Tsitsipas, accused the Djokovic of making the “majority” of players preparing for the tournament “look like they’re all fools or something.”

Novak Djokovic working out at Melbourne Park on Jan. 13, 2022.
AFP via Getty Images

Tsitsipas said, “The stats say 98 percent of players have been vaccinated and did what they had to do in order to come and perform and play in Australia. One side of it is, yeah we’ve all followed the protocols in order to compete in Australia, we’ve been very disciplined in that part.

“The other side, I’d say that it kind of seems like not everyone is playing by the rules of how Tennis Australia and the government have been putting things. A very small group chose to follow their own way and it kind of makes the majority look like they’re all fools or something.”

Tsitsipas said Djokovic’s actions took “a lot of daring to do,” and admitted he doesn’t think other players would put a Grand Slam at risk.

Stefanos Tsitsipas and Novak Djokovic after Djokovic's win at the 2021 French Open.
Stefanos Tsitsipas and Novak Djokovic after Djokovic’s win at the 2021 French Open.
Corbis via Getty Images

“I chose to go and be 100 percent ready for whatever was to come and not having to think about anything else,” said Tsitsipas, who lost to Djokovic at the 2021 French Open final. “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.”

Tsitsipas was unvaccinated in August ahead of the US Open, though said he would “at some point I will have to, I’m pretty sure about it.”

The world. No. 1, Djokovic said he obtained a medical exemption to participate in the Australian Open, which has a vaccination requirement in place for players staff and fans.

Novak Djokovic working out at Melbourne Park on Jan. 13, 2022.
Novak Djokovic working out at Melbourne Park on Jan. 13, 2022.
AFP via Getty Images

On Tuesday, the Australian Border Force said it was investigating whether Djokovic submitted a false travel declaration ahead of his trip to Australia. The next day, Djokovic said his team provided additional information to the Australian Government to clarify the “mistake” of his travel declaration.

Djokovic came under fire after photos of him surfaced on social media in the days after he tested positive for COVID-19 in mid-December. The Serbian star later acknowledged that he did break isolation laws and called his actions “an error of judgment.”

He added that “human error” by a member of his team was why he failed to state he had travelled outside of Serbia in the 14-day period prior to entering Australia.

Novak Djokovic working out at Melbourne Park on Jan. 13, 2022.
Novak Djokovic working out at Melbourne Park on Jan. 13, 2022.
AFP via Getty Images

Djokovic had checked “No” on a travel declaration that asked if he had traveled in the 14 days prior to his arrival into Australia, according to court documents obtained by CNN.

The Serbian prime minister also said Djokovic’s actions appear to be “a clear breach” of COVID-19 rules.

The Australian Open draw was briefly delayed on Thursday, but it eventually was held. Djokovic will face fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round of his title defense, unless he withdraws, or is forced to withdraw via deportation.

The tournament begins Monday.


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