'He knew the conditions': Rafa Nadal's pointed swipe at Novak Djokovic

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  • Novak Djokovic
    Novak Djokovic
    Serbian tennis player
  • Rafael Nadal
    Rafael Nadal
    Spanish tennis player
Pictured left, Rafael Nadal alongside tennis rival Novak Djokovic.
Rafael Nadal says Novak Djokovic must have known the potential consequences of his choices. Pic: Getty

Rafael Nadal has turned the heat on great rival Novak Djokovic, insisting the World No.1 could be preparing for the Australian Open "without a problem" if he just followed the rules.

Djokovic will remain in visa limbo until at least Monday as he fights to stave off deportation before the year's first grand slam.

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The nine-time champion is challenging the Australian government's decision to cancel his visa, applying for a judicial review.

He is also seeking to have officials barred from deporting him in the meantime.

But Federal Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly on Thursday evening said there was a delay in receiving the application for a review of the visa decisions. 

As such, Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews' lawyer has agreed the tennis star should not be removed from the country until his case is due back before the court, unless he decides to leave of his own accord.

The matter was adjourned until 10am on Monday, when it will return for a final hearing, with Djokovic to remain in Australia until at least 4pm.

All Australian Open competitors are required to be fully vaccinated for both entry into the country and entry into the tournament.

The Serbian superstar claimed he had an exemption against vaccination allowing him to travel to Australia, but it appears he only had the exemption provided by Tennis Australia to participate in the competition.

He arrived in Australia late Wednesday night and after being detained at the airport was transferred to the Park Hotel in Carlton - an alternative place of immigration detention.

Nadal - locked on 20 career singles grand slam titles with Djokovic and Roger Federer - sympathised with the Serb's plight but had a pointed message for his rival.

"In some way I feel sorry for him," Nadal told media Thursday while answering in a series of questions regarding Djokovic's detainment in Melbourne. 

"But at the same time, he knew the conditions since a lots of months ago, so he makes his own decision."

"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."

Novak Djokovic has copped a wave of criticism about his vaccination saga. Pic: AAP
Novak Djokovic has copped a wave of criticism about his vaccination saga. Pic: AAP

Rafa Nadal refers to advice of medical professionals

When asked on how Djokovic's situation impacts how people look at the country and the Australia Open in general, Nadal said, "its normal that the people here in Australia get very frustrated," considering how the country has suffered and endured lockdowns during the pandemic.

"But 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.

"From my point of view, that's the only think that I can say 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," Nadal continued. 

"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."

Melbourne has been under severe virus measures during the pandemic with more than 260 days of lockdowns and restrictions on travel. 

More than 90% of the state of Victoria is fully vaccinated (age 12 and over), and Victoria state government mandated full vaccinations for all players, staff and fans at the Australian Open unless there is a genuine medical reason.

Victoria's government said medical exemptions would not be “a loophole for privileged tennis players” and would only be possible in “exceptional circumstances if you have an acute medical condition. Neither Tennis Australia nor Djokovic revealed the reason he sought an exemption.

"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."

with agencies

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