Novak Djokovic has had his say over last year’s Covid vaccine controversy on his return to Australia. The world No 5 is gearing up to play his first Australian Open since being deported from the country last year after his visa was cancelled twice, and he has now addressed the media narrative that came from the incident as he claimed his personal brand had been ruined by the media, who “picked on [him] big time”.
Djokovic is back in Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open, where he is bidding to win a historic 10th trophy Down Under and tie Rafael Nadal’s overall Grand Slam record of 22 titles. The 35-year-old returned to the country after his three-year ban was lifted, allowing him back following last year’s saga which saw him deported after having his visa cancelled twice when he arrived unvaccinated with a medical exemption, having recently recovered from Covid.
The former world No 1 hit headlines as he spent time in a government detention hotel before being kicked out of the country on the eve of the 2022 Australian Open but he was able to return as usual this year and has already gotten off to a positive start, winning the Adelaide International in front of a crowd of supportive fans. He has now given his first Australian TV interview since his ordeal last year and didn’t hold back, putting the media on blast for “picking on him”.
Looking back on the situation, Djokovic told 9 news: “It’s still unfortunate and it hurts me that most of the people will have a wrong idea about what happened. That’s what hurts me the most.” The 21-time Grand Slam champion then claimed his personal brand had suffered as a result of the media coverage around the incident, as discussion of his vaccination status continued when it kept him out of Indian Wells, Miami and the US Open, and looks set to prevent him from playing the sunshine double again this year.
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