Djokovic paying the 'consequences' – Nadal speaks out as Serbian star faces Australian Open KO

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  • Novak Djokovic
    Novak Djokovic
    Serbian tennis player
  • Rafael Nadal
    Rafael Nadal
    Spanish tennis player

Rafael Nadal declared it was imperative to "follow the rules" on COVID-19 vaccinations after rival Novak Djokovic was told he faces being deported from Australia.

World number one Djokovic was left fighting for the right to compete at the Australian Open, a tournament he has won nine times, after authorities cancelled his visa.

A medical exemption was expected to allow Djokovic to enter the country, regardless of his vaccination status, which he has yet to formally disclose.

However, the Australian Border Force declared the Serbian had been ordered to fly out of the country on Thursday, sparking a challenge to that decision by Djokovic's legal team.

Reports in Australia said an interim injunction had been granted, meaning Djokovic will remain in immigration detention until a court hearing on Monday.

According to Nadal, who had COVID-19 recently but has been cleared to compete at Melbourne Park, Djokovic would have made his life a lot easier by going down the vaccination route.

"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," Nadal said.

"The only thing that I can say is I believe in what the people who know about medicine says, and if the people say that we need to get vaccinated, we need to get the vaccine.

"I went through COVID. I have been vaccinated twice. If you do this, you don't have any problem to play here. The world in my opinion has been suffering enough to not follow the rules.

"I think if he wanted, he would be playing here in Australia without a problem. He made his own decisions, and everybody is free to take their own decisions, but then there are some consequences."

Djokovic was initially detained at an airport after arriving in Australia, while his status remained in limbo. His coach, Goran Ivanisevic, said it had been "not the most usual trip Down Under".

Spanish superstar Nadal has 20 grand slam titles, the same number that Djokovic and Roger Federer have brought up across their careers. They are locked in a race to finish with the most majors, and Federer, at 40, is battling back from injury and unlikely to compete at a slam before the US Open.

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison tweeted on Thursday: "Mr Djokovic's visa has been cancelled. Rules are rules, especially when it comes to our borders.

"No one is above these rules. Our strong border policies have been critical to Australia having one of the lowest death rates in the world from COVID, we are continuing to be vigilant."

Nadal has some sympathy for Djokovic, but it appears to be limited.

"Of course, I don't like the situation that is happening," Nadal said. "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."

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