Novak Djokovic has claimed that his Australian Open visa ordeal showed the true colours of some people in the “tennis ecosystem”. The world No 7 was deported from Australia at the start of the year after having his visa cancelled twice and has since been unable to compete in tournaments across North America due to his unvaccinated status.
Djokovic has experienced a season like no other this year, as his unvaccinated status has prevented him from competing at the Australian Open, US Open and Masters 1000 events in Indian Wells, Miami, Canada and Cincinnati. The 35-year-old hit headlines at the start of the season during his saga Down Under, which saw Djokovic have his visa cancelled twice before ultimately being kicked out of the country.
With the world No 7’s visa problems playing out on the world stage, he has now called out some of his rivals as he claimed that “masks came off” during his ordeal as he opened up on the way he was treated in the wake of the scandal. As Djokovic now waits to learn whether he can return for the 2023 Australian Open after he received an automatic three-year ban when he was deported, he said he had learned some lessons off the back of the experience.
“I know that everything that has happened to me this year, especially with Australia and everything that came after, and dealing with me that I didn’t like and had never experienced before, taught me some important life lessons,” he told Sportal. And Djokovic had an ominous message for those who showed him their true colours.
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He continued: “It shows me what kind of world I live in, especially in this tennis ecosystem. A lot of masks fell off, so to speak, and it’s very interesting for me to see how someone treated me this year.”
Looking back on the bans he faced from entering Australia and America, the 90-time title winner admitted he still had no regrets over his decision not to get vaccinated though he was hoping to return to both countries next season. “I don’t want to go into detail, but I hope things get back to normal for Australia and America and I can play there again,” he said.
And Djokovic didn’t want to criticise those who had treated him differently for his vaccine stance, adding: “I respect that everyone has a different way of thinking about my situation and the circumstances. Finally, I have never insulted anyone or ever tried to be disrespectful in any way. I’ve always tried to show that it’s important that everyone has the right and freedom of choice. For the decisions I made, I knew there would be certain consequences.”
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While the 35-year-old was unable to play two of the four Majors this year, he still won Wimbledon as well as three other titles, and was happy with the season he had been able to put together. “I won in Rome and played pretty well at Roland Garros,” Djokovic said.
“After that I won Wimbledon, then two more tournaments, so I continued my winning streak.” And the Serb will be looking to keep up his 16-match winning streak at next week’s Paris Masters, where he is the defending champion. He will then play the ATP Finals before his unusual season draws to a close.