Novak Djokovic news: Serena Williams’ coach surprised by Serbian’s choice, but says he ‘deserves respect’

Novak Djokovic looking ahead

Patrick Mouratoglou has admitted that he was taken aback by Novak Djokovic’s announcement that he is sticking to his guns over his vaccination stance.

Djokovic’s decision not to get vaccinated against Covid-19 meant he was unable to defend his Australian Open title. Following a two-week saga that resulted in two court cases, the Serbian was deported from the country after his visa was cancelled for a second time over fears he would stoke anti-vaccination sentiment in Australia.

With his great rival Rafael Nadal going on to win the title at Melbourne Park to move to 21 Grand Slam titles, many believed that the world No 1 would have a change of heart and get vaccinated.

Novak Djokovic news: World No 1 says reaction and ‘looks’ from fellow tennis players ‘really hurt me a lot’

However, in a wide-ranging interview released this week, the 34-year-old confirmed that he won’t get vaccinated any time soon, even if it meant missing big tournaments since as the French Open and Wimbledon.

Mouratoglou, who coaches 23-time Grand Slam winner Williams, admits that he was amazed that Djokovic “took the opposite way”, but applauds him for sticking to his beliefs.

“I am extremely surprise by Novak’s statement,” he said in a video. “I would never ever think that would be his choice.

“We all know that he is competing to be the greatest, he is competing with Rafa [Nadal] and Roger [Federer], he is in the best possible position, he is the youngest of the three. He is the one that is winning more Grand Slams every [on] average.

“He puts his belief in not getting vaccinated above this race to be the greatest. That’s extremely powerful. It just shows the type of person he is, and I say it in a positive way. He has very strong beliefs and he has the guts to stand by his beliefs whatever the situation is.

“I would think that after what happened in Australia he would have said ‘I can become the greatest of all time, I really have a big shot for that. I accept to be vaccinated. Plus, if I do so, people will stop being against me.’ But he took the opposite way.

“I think that someone who stands by his beliefs, even though the immense majority of the people are going against him, deserves total respect. Whatever your opinion on the subject is.”