'Has the right': Nadal's shock backflip over Djokovic 'justice'

Despite his criticism of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal has backed the Federal Court's decision to allow the world No.1 to stay in Australia for the time being. Pictures: Getty Images
Despite his criticism of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal has backed the Federal Court's decision to allow the world No.1 to stay in Australia for the time being. Pictures: Getty Images

Rafael Nadal has backed the Federal Court decision to release tennis rival Novak Djokovic from immigration detention, saying it is the 'fairest' outcome of the saga.

After announcing he would be playing the Australian Open after claiming to have an exemption from being vaccinated against Covid-19, Djokovic's visa was subsequently cancelled by Border Force as he was en route to Melbourne.

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The world No.1 successfully appealed the cancellation of his visa on Monday afternoon, but his fate still rests with Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, who is considering the possibility of personally cancelling the visa outright.

The judge's decision to allow Djokovic to leave immigration detention was not based on whether or not he had a valid medical exemption, rather that border officials had not acted reasonably by not giving Djokovic time to prove his case before he was sent to detention.

The saga has placed immense pressure on the federal government, after Prime Minister Scott Morrison publicly announced the cancellation of Djokovic's visa on Twitter, stating 'rules are rules'.

There was a storm of criticism of Djokovic as well, given the whole saga had he simply been vaccinated against Covid-19.

Nadal had been among those to criticise Djokovic for his anti-vaccination views, saying that although everyone has the right to choose, it was clear that vaccination was the right choice.

After Djokovic's weekend stay at the Park Hotel immigration detention centre in Melbourne however, Nadal felt his rival had been treated poorly.

“Regardless of whether or not I agree on some things with Djokovic, without any doubt, justice has spoken,” Nadal said.

“They have said he has the right to play in the Australian Open and I really believe that is the fairest thing if the issue has been resolved, which seems to be the case.”

Andy Murray: Novak Djokovic saga is bad for tennis

Andy Murray is the latest big name to show concern for Novak Djokovic while declaring that the saga which has engulfed the world No.1 is "really bad" for tennis.

In their appeal document sent to the court, Djokovic's lawyers say the 34-year-old tested positive for COVID-19 in December, and it was on those grounds that they sought a medical exemption that would allow him to defend his Australian Open crown.

But lawyers for the federal government will argue in a hearing that it had not given Djokovic any assurance that his medical exemption would be accepted.

The Serbian has to await the outcome of this hearing which will determine if he's allowed to play for a 10th Australian title or whether he will be deported.

Novak Djokovic successfully appealed the cancellation of his Australian visa.
Novak Djokovic has been released from immigration after successfully appealing the cancellation of his Australian visa. (Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)

The whole affair, now in its fifth day since the champion's arrival, has left three-time grand slam winner Murray - the man Djokovic has beaten in four Australian Open finals - quite dismayed.

"I think everyone is shocked by it to be honest," the former world No.1 told reporters.

"I'm going to say two things on it just now. The first thing is that I hope that Novak is okay. I know him well, and I've always had a good relationship with him.

"The second thing I'll say on it, is it's really not good for tennis at all, and I don't think it's good for anyone involved. I think it's really bad.

"Some stuff has come out that really doesn't look good, either. I want to hear all the facts first before giving all of my thoughts on it."

Murray's thoughts have been echoed by other tennis stars like Australia's most high profile men's player Nick Kyrgios, who said: "I'm feeling for him now. Like it's not really humane, is it, what's going on?"

With AAP

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