Australian Open: Tennis stars react to Novak Djokovic saga

As players make their final preparations for the Australian Open, all questions revolve around the 20-time Grand Slam champion.

“I think we all want to move forward, whatever it is, keep going and focus on the cool aspect of starting a slam,” two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza said during a media day.

“I think all of this could have been prevented, as we’ve all done, by getting vaccinated and doing everything we had to do to get here in Australia.

“Everyone knew the rules very clearly. You just have to follow them and that’s it. I don’t think it’s that hard.”

Muguruza, who reached the Australian Open final in 2020, fears the ongoing controversy will negatively impact the sport’s reputation.

Djokovic is currently being held by Australian authorities pending a court hearing on Sunday over his case to remain in the country.

Australian immigration minister Alex Hawke withdrew the unvaccinated tennis champion’s visa for the second time on Friday.

“I don’t think this would help the tennis world or the players because at the end it’s a little bit of conflict all the time,” Muguruza added.

“It’s hard enough to make the tournaments work and have the WTA and ATP circuit happen from country to country to create all this news, quite a lot.”

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Novak Djokovic practices in Melbourne Park before his visa was revoked again.

‘An unfortunate situation’

If Djokovic manages to compete in this year’s tournament, he could win a record-breaking 21st men’s grand slam title.

He currently shares the record with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, but the latter says the tournament will still be a success even if the Serb can’t play.

“I tell you one thing, it is very clear that Novak Djokovic is without a doubt one of the best players in history,” Nadal told reporters. “But there is no player in history more important than an event, right?

Novak Djokovic is "the best player in the history of men's tennis"  but he leaves a "complicated"  legacy of the court

“The Australian Open is much more important than any player. When he finally plays, okay. If he doesn’t play, the Australian Open will be a great Australian Open, with or without him. That’s my point of view.”

Djokovic has thanked those who continued to support him through the ordeal, but there are some who question whether this situation will tarnish his legacy.

Defending Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka says she is saddened by what she saw. “I think it’s an unfortunate situation,” she told reporters.

“He’s such a great player and it’s a little sad that some people remember him this way.

“But I also think it’s not the tennis players, but the government’s way of dealing with it.”

‘It’s their rules’

Daniil Medvedev, second-ranked in the world, ruined Djokovic’s quest for a grand slam on the calendar — winning all four majors in the same calendar year — in 2021 when the Russian won the US Open final against the Serbian .

The pair could meet again this year in the Australian Open final if both make it that far, but Medvedev says the country’s rules must be followed.

“I want to say about Novak’s situation that we are in Australia, it is their rules,” he told reporters.

“But as far as I know, again, if he has a valid exemption to be in this country and do what he wants, then he should play.

“If the exemption is not valid or something else is not valid, any country can deny you entry.”

The Australian Open starts Monday, but whether Djokovic is in the draw has yet to be decided by a court.

CNN’s Jill Martin reported.

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