No jab comes with consequences, says Nadal

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

Rafael Nadal has only limited sympathy for Novak Djokovic and says his great grand slam rival wouldn't be in such a desperate plight if he was vaccinated.

Nadal on Thursday stressed he wasn't in the business of influencing other people's choices in life, but made it clear Djokovic wouldn't be fighting in court to play the Australian Open if he'd followed the rules.

"In some way, I feel sorry for him but he knew the conditions months ago," Nadal said after making a successful comeback to tennis with a straight-sets win at the Melbourne Summer Set.

"I don't encourage nobody. Everyone has to do what they feel is good for them but there are rules and without the vaccine there can be some troubles.

"He's free to take his own position, but then there are consequences."

One of the more vocal exponents of being inoculated among the estimated 95 per cent of ATP players to be vaccinated, Nadal said he didn't like Djokovic's messy situation.

Nadal, Djokovic and Roger Federer are all locked on a record 20 men's grand slam titles apiece.

But with Federer out injured and Djokovic challenging his deportation from Australia for allegedly not meeting visa requirements, Nadal is poised to be the only one of the Big Three lining up at Melbourne Park from January 17.

"Of course what's happening is not good for Novak, in my opinion," the Spaniard said.

"(But) if you are vaccinated, you can play in the Australian Open.

"We have been going through very challenging (time). A lot of families have been suffering in the last three years.

"It's normal that people here in Australia get very frustrated with the case because they have been going through all of very hard times.

"A lot of people were not able to come back home, so from my point of view I believe in what the people who know about medicine say.

"If the people say we need to get vaccinated, we need to get the vaccine.

"If you do this, you don't have any problem to play here."

Djokovic, though, did receive support from two-time Open quarter-finalist and anti-vaxxing American Tennys Sandgren, who said Australia should be stripped of hosting the slam following the treatment of the world No.1.

Djokovic was granted such an exemption to play after his application was approved by two separate independent panels of medical experts.

But his case didn't meet border entry requirements with the nine-time Australian Open champion sent to a quarantine hotel to await deportation.

Sandgren claimed Djokovic was a victim of politics within Australia.

"Just to be crystal clear here. 2 separate medical boards approved his exemption. And politicians are stopping it. Australia doesn't deserve to host a grand slam," Sandgren tweeted.

While Sandgren was outspoken in his views, there was a muted response to the visa cancellation among the peers of the polarising Serb.

Former Australian player Rennae Stubbs called the saga a "massive s*** show".

"I am looking forward to Novak's statement I would say he is f****** pissed right now," Stubbs posted on Instagram.

"I would be ropeable if I was him. Also the other lesson is, get vaccinated."

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