Novak Djokovic comment – Three key questions need to be answered by world number one

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic has promised to give “his version” of the events surrounding his deportation from Australia last month and that pronouncement cannot come soon enough.

From first to last, Djokovic’s attempt to play in the Australian Open was a PR disaster on so many levels, with the player caught in the eye of the storm that rocked tennis only partly to blame for a circus stirred up by Australian politicians keen to score points at the expense of the world number one.

Once Djokovic was granted a visa to enter Australia, he had every right to travel to Melbourne in the expectation that he could defend his Australian Open title, but all that changed before his plane landed.

With Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison appreciating he had been presented with a political open goal to take on the unvaccinated Djokovic and remove him from the country, the wheels were set in motion on an ugly story that left all parties damaged.

The trouble for Djokovic is he is still living through a nightmare that continues to be the most talked-about subject in tennis and for that, he has to accept his share of responsibility.

While the debate over Djokovic’s positive Covid test on December 16th that allowed him to apply for a medical exemption to enter Australia rumbles on, Djokovic’s silence over the matter since his eviction from Australia has allowed a whirlwind of rumour and counter rumour to swirl around him and his story.

The BBC report casting doubt over the credibility of his Covid test has been rebuffed by Serbian officials who have insisted his positive test was valid and yet several issues need to be resolved by Djokovic when he speaks to the media, presumably ahead of his return to action in the Dubai Tennis Championships later this month.

In addition, the three big questions he needs to clear up read like this:

  • Firstly, why did he not know he was infected with the virus the day before he attended an event presenting trophies to children on December 17th? Could that have been a breakdown in communication between testing chiefs and Novak?
  • Secondly, why did he attend an interview with L’Equipe on December 18th when he knew he had tested positive for Covid and was liable to give the virus to people in attendance at that event?
  • Finally, was he expecting to miss the Australian Open if he did not test positive for Covid between his final match at the David Cup on December 3rd and his positive test on December 16th? If so, why did he fail to mention that in his numerous press conferences before that date?

Even Djokovic’s most loyal supporters who are desperate to pedal the theory that the deportation was a conspiracy against their hero must appreciate that the points above do not put the world number one in a good light, so it is only reasonable that he comes up with viable excuses for them before everyone is ready to move on.

Novak Djokovic in Melbourne
Novak Djokovic in Melbourne

Suggesting he did the L’Equipe interview because he “didn’t want to let the reporter down” was a bizarre excuse that needs clarification, while Serbian officials may need to explain why Djokovic was unaware that he was Covid positive on December 17th.

The problem for Djokovic must be that his refusal to comment on the biggest controversy of his glittering career has left a void of airspace that has been filled with a lot of negativity by those who have forthright views on both sides of this debate.

So the time has come for Djokovic to take back control of the narrative, let the world know “his truth” and maybe then he can get back to doing what he does best on a tennis court.