Djokovic ‘made situation worse’ as tennis star sparks fury with Aus Open exemption

Novak Djokovic ‘made situation worse’ says Jo Durie

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Former tennis player Jo Durie has reprimanded Novak Djokovic for failing to clarify his vaccination status up until now and making the “situation worse than it needs to be.” Djokovic has found himself at the centre of controversy after claiming to have a medical exemption allowing him to compete in this year’s Australian Open tournament, giving him the platform to defend last year’s title. News of the potential loophole was met with widespread criticism around the world, as rules indicate that players must either be fully vaccinated or have a medical exemption by an independent panel of experts.

 

The decision to hand the 20-time Grand Slam winner an exemption went down to wire but in the end his wish to compete at one of the sport’s most prestigious tournaments has materialised “following a rigorous review process involving two separate independent panels of medicals experts”.

The serial winner now has a golden opportunity of surpassing fierce rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who are both level on 20 Grand Slam victories, should he go all the way and win a world-record tenth Australian Open in Melbourne this month.

Speaking to Rachel Burden on BBC Radio 5, Ms Durie gave the iconic tennis star a dressing down, saying that, had he handled the situation better, he would not have found himself in such a precarious position.

She said: “From my point of view, he’s been sort of avoiding the issue for so long and now it’s come to this.

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“Suddenly he’s saying ‘Oh, I am coming now’.

“Ok, he has had an exemption but it’s just the whole process of it.

“Why not come clean to say if you have or you haven’t?

“I just don’t understand it, he’s made the situation worse than it needs to be!”

'No special rules for Novak Djokovic', says Australian Prime Minister

But the positive announcement that he can play could be cancelled out by the opposition he may face on the hardcourt, as his decision not to clarify his vaccine status has infuriated even his staunchest fans.

Ms Durie, who won two Grand Slam doubles throughout her distinguished career, warned Djokovic that his popularity in Australia may have dissipated and sunk to an all-time low.

She predicted supporters to be on his back and jeer him during games.

She continued: “You know, he was so emotional at the US Open because the crowd for once in his eyes were on his side.

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“I think he’ll find it quite hard actually, he might not understand the attitude because it doesn’t seem as though he has weighed this up properly and everyone’s pretty angry in Melbourne at the moment.”

This year’s tournament will start on Monday, January 17th with the final scheduled for January 30th but there could plenty of empty seats at the Rod Laver Arena as furious fans contemplate the idea of boycotting the tournament.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison threatened to derail Djokovic’s ambitions to take part in the tournament if he can’t provide “acceptable proof” upon his arrival.

He warned: “Any individual seeking to enter Australia must comply with our border requirements.

“He has to because if he’s not vaccinated, he must provide acceptable proof that he cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons and to be able to access the same travel arrangements, as fully vaccinated travellers.

“There should be no special rules for Novak Djokovic at all, none whatsoever.”

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