Rafael Nadal has his say on Novak Djokovic’s return to Australian Open: ‘That’s the best news possible’

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic

Rafael Nadal has welcomed the news about Novak Djokovic’s return to the Australian Open, saying “tennis is better when the best players are on the court”.

Nine-time Melbourne champion Djokovic missed his title defence at the start of the year as he was deported from Australia after his visa was revoked on public health and safety grounds, with the ruling resulting in an automatic three-year visa ban from the country.

The news dominated headlines around the globe as the Serbian spent time in an immigration facility and was also involved in two court cases, and the incident certainly had a negative effect on tennis’ image.

However, the door can now be closed on that chapter after Australia’s new government, the Labor Party, overturned the visa ban to pave the way for the 21-time Grand Slam winner to compete at next year’s season-opening Grand Slam.

“It was a relief obviously knowing what I and people closest to me in my life have been through this year with what happened in Australia and post Australia obviously,” Djokovic – who also missed this year’s North American hard-court swing, including the US Open, due to his unvaccinated status – said earlier this week.

“I could not receive better news for sure — during this tournament as well. Australian Open has been my most successful Grand Slams. I made some of the best memories there.”

Nadal, who had always maintained that the whole episode could have been avoided if Djokovic had been vaccinated against Covid-19, says it is good news for Djokovic, the sport of tennis and fans.

“I always said the same. Tennis is better when the best players are on the court. At the end, we don’t have to create many stories,” the Spaniard, who ended up winning the 2022 Australian Open , said.

“Even if was a big mess what happened last year in Australia, was not good for our sport. That was past. Roger [Federer] is not playing anymore. I missed a lot of Grand Slams for injuries. Last year Novak was not able to play there. That’s past.

“What’s next is Novak will be able to play again. That’s the best news possible, especially knowing that now the virus is more under control – seems – around the world. So why not?

“Happy for him. Happy for the tournament. Happy for the fans. That’s it.”

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