Rafael Nadal says he feels sorry for Novak Djokovic

Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images

Rafael Nadal said he feels sorry for Novak Djokovic after the world number one was denied entry into Australia but added that the Serb knew for months he could potentially face problems if he arrived without being vaccinated against COVID-19.

Q. Obviously the Novak situation is all anyone is talking about today; can we get your perspective on it, and just in general whether you think it might impact on how people look at Australia and the Australian Open in general?

Well, I dont know. Of course what’s happening is not good for no one in my opinion. But I can’t have a clear opinion on everything because I don’t have all the details, honestly. Seems some rough situation, but at the end of the day the only thing that I can say is we have been going through very challenging and a lot of families have been suffering a lot during the last two years with all the pandemic.

I mean, it’s normal that the people here in Australia get very frustrated with the case because they have been going through a lot of very hard lockdowns, and a lot of people were not able to come back home. From my point of view, that’s the only thing that I can say is I believe in what the people who knows about medicine says, and if the people says that we need to get vaccinated, we need to get the vaccine. That’s my point of view. I went through the COVID. I have been vaccinated twice. If you do this, you don’t have any problem to play here.

That’s the only clear thing. The rest of the things, I don’t want to have or to give to you an opinion that I don’t have the whole information. The only for me clear thing is if you are vaccinated, you can play in the Australian Open and everywhere, and the world in my opinion have been suffering enough to not follow the rules.

Q. So you’d encourage Novak to get vaccinated and it solves all the problems?

I don’t encourage no one. I feel everyone have to do whatever, whatever feels that is good for him. But there are rules, and if you don’t want to get the vaccine, then you can have some troubles. That’s the thing. Of course after a lot of people had been dying for two years, my feeling is with the vaccine is the only way to stop this pandemic. That’s what the people who understands about this says, and I am no one to create a different opinion.

Q. Do you feel sorry for Novak’s situation, and do you want to see him play here in Australia, or do you think he should have known better?

I don’t have an opinion on that. I think if he wanted, he would be playing here in Australia without a problem. He went through another he made his own decisions, and everybody is free to take their own decisions, but then there are some consequences.

Of course I don’t like the situation that is happening. In some way I feel sorry for him. But at the same time, he knew the conditions since a lot of months ago, so he makes his own decision.


  1. A new twist in the AO exemption case….

    Paul Sakkal
    Jan 6
    Acting Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan says Craig Tiley and Tennis Australia did not inform the Vic government about Morrison government letters stating a prior COVID infection – the basis for Novak Djokovic’s exemption – would not be accepted as a genuine exemption

    If the above is accurate, I think Tiley is in some deep doo….

    • I think Craig Tiley might up losing this job as a result of this fiasco. I personally don’t feel one ounce of sympathy for Djokovic – he knew the rules and tried to figure out a way around it – and his claims sound fishy at best. But Tiley has enabled some of this mess. And Djokovic, doesn’t he have anyone around who will tell him the truth…. stop playing the victim and the martyr with a massive chip on this shoulder. Appreciate all that he has and be responsible. He will never be the role model or leader in tennis that both Rafa and Roger have been. He may be a terrific player, but he’s an idiot as a person!

      • In response to Djokovic’s deportation appeal document, the Australian government in its 13-page response said that there are criteria and conditions for entry set by the sovereignty of the country and it is their decision to determine who can be in their land and that there is no such thing as assurance of entry for a non-citizen.

        “This is because there is no such thing as an assurance of entry by a non-citizen into Australia. Rather, there are criteria and conditions for entry, and reasons for refusal or cancellation of a visa. Section 116(1)(e)(i) is one of those reasons for cancellation and reflects the power and responsibility of the Commonwealth to determine who is entitled to be in Australia. That power and responsibility are fundamental attributes of Australia’s sovereignty.23 And as for material given to the applicant by the Department, it had not represented to the applicant that his so-called ‘medical exemption’ would be accepted.” it read.

  2. I am appalled by Djokovic’s behaviour. Who does he think he is? Why does he think that he should be exempt from laws which apply to everyone else? I don’t see how he could play even if he was allowed into the country: he would be booed every time he set foot on court. People in Melbourne were practically locked in their houses for months on end because of this horrible virus. Novak will probably win more Grand Slam titles than Rafa and Roger, but he will go down in history as someone who thought he was above the law during the most terrible pandemic of our time. Here in the UK, over 90% of those in intensive care due to Covid are unvaccinated. During the 2020 US Open, Novak was trying to contact the Governor of New York because he didn’t like the Covid rules, and now he thinks he’s above the laws made by the elected officials of Australia. Tennys Sandgren doesn’t want to be vaccinated either, but he has accepted that his choice means that he is ineligible to play in Australia. Novak just seems to think that he is above the law.

    • Vc está distorcendo as coisas, djoko jamais pensou estar acima da lei, isso nao se aplica ao caso dele, ele simplesmente optou, assim como muitos, em não se vacinar pelo fato de não sabermos ainda dos efeitos colaterais Dessas vacinas a longo prazo, e também pelo fato dele já ter desenvolvido a imunidade natural.
      E o djoko não precisa provar mais nada pra ninguém.
      Ele ė o GOAT.

  3. The vaccines are not only to protect you; more importantly, it is to protect those around you, other players, family members, extended family members, friends and strangers alike. I find these self-centered, egotistical people who are NOT listening to the science and can place others in danger, especially with the highly contagious “omicron” virus, should not be allowed to compete with those who are fully vaccinated. I don’t feel sorry for Novak; he has known about the rules about vaccines for a long time now and if he refuses to accept the science, then, it must abide by the consequences of his decision.

  4. I totally agree with Jill, Daffodils Galleria I am Spanish and very much a fan of Rafa, but we should respect every one’s decisions of what they put in their bodies and I would not expect a serious vegan like Novak to put the hardly tested vaccine in his body. Particularly as tennis singles is not a contact game. They could have stopped him from fraternising with anyone outside his team\have a test, etc. surely everyone is aware of how many vaccinated professional football players have gone down with severe heart attacks and some of them have died while playing football. This is most unusual, never been known before.

  5. I’m so happy he is not playing Novak I don’t like this man he is rude that’s why we love Rafa his a gentleman 👍💪🎾

  6. Whether one agrees with vaccination or not the rules of entry to a country apply, Novac knew that before he left home hoping because of his status ,he would be allowed in.
    Entry Rules are rules and are there to protect the public and economy, the intention is good.
    I feel Novacs refusal for the jab is a fear that it will affect his playing ability and ego,and has nothing to do with a health issue ,if he’s unhealthy how is it he plays one of the most strenuous of sports on the planet ?

    I have a compromised immune system and had 3 Covid jabs and 2 flu jabs since this Pandemic began with absolutely no side effects at all apart from a slight headache the first time..I have been having the flu jab for years ,no problems.
    Side effects dont kill, Covid does , 6 million now….take your choice ,protect yourself and others especially loved ones.
    Lives are more precious than a tennis game,which I love to watch especially Rafa the King.!

  7. It’s unwise to say everyone should get vaccinated. If you have some underlying health issues, or some tendencies, every doctor will refuse to give you a shot after an examination. It doesn’t apply to most people, but most isn’t all the people.
    1. If you had covid, you have strong antibodies that last much longer than the ones from the vaccine.
    2. If you get vaccinated, it doesn’t mean you can’t get infected.
    3. If you are vaccinated, you can still spread the virus.
    Having said that, vaccination against covid should be a personal choice, and a personal choice only. Huge loss for Australian Open, but Austalia lost its mind anyway.

  8. I am most definitely Rafa’s fun, but we have to respect the opinions and decisions people make about what they put inside their bodies. There have been a number of professional football players going down in the field with heart attacks after being vaccinated, something very rare up to now.

    • Nievesblake, I respect the SCIENCE, not the misinformed, not the disinformation, not the misinformation, and certainly not the conspiracy theorists.

      I am no scientist but I’ve been following the scientific reports on COVID-19 since it was first discovered in China. I know three people who contracted the virus, two of whom died and the third told me “I was very lucky I didn’t die.” You are entitled to your opinion but before offering an opinion please get the FACTS.

  9. Djokovic made his bed and he should lie in it. The honorable thing to do would have been to bow out of the competition and cite your beliefs. He would have gained a lot of respect and some sympathy. However he tried to loophole his was through… Look how it’s turning out for him.

    I hope his appeal fails and he’s bounced back to where he came from.

    I don’t believe in the vaccine mandates even though I’m fully vaccinated with 1 dose of J&J and a confirmed case of Omicron thrown in for good measure last week. I’m negative now. But the rules are the rules and everyone is equal.

    Djokovic should suck it up and just exit Australia. The same system that prevented people from seeing dying relatives cannot now allow you to jet in and play for millions of dollars.


  10. I am not sorry for Novak! Rules are clear for everyone. It‘s a shame what Novak did and his father is the biggest clown of all🤦‍♂️

  11. People are missing the point entirely. Educate yourselves on the vaccine before you judge anyone’s decision. A lot of eyes will be opened if more people like Novak were around. This from a 100% Rafa fan and a NON Novak tennis fan. There’s a lot more going on here than the world realises or wants to admit.

  12. Not sure why Nadal would be asked these questions?
    Novak should have known better – why test the system because you are no 1 they should treat you differently?
    I DON’T THINK SO – just my opinion!!!!

    • I am upset Rafa wasn’t asked about himself and how he feels about 2022 at this point. Or how long he had to isolate after returning from Abu Dhabi. I don’t want him spending time answering questions about the Serbian, as Toni referred to that other guy.

      • Margo, if you haven’t read story from ATPTour, Moya: “Rafa’s willpower has been extraordinary”.
        I highly recommended it.

      • LOL Carlos has Rafa down to a T. That’s Rafa, for sure. According to Carlos, Rafa’s hunger for competition is intact. GREAT NEWS for us fans.

        No, I hadn’t seen the article and thanks for suggesting it.

    • The press just want a “Rafa criticises Novak” headline. All Rafa did was state the facts – if Novak chooses not to be vaccinated, then that is up to him, but then he has to accept the consequences of his decision.

Leave a Reply