Rafael Nadal won a record 21st Grand Slam over the weekend in stunning fashion, coming back from two sets down to beat Russian Daniil Medvedev. Supported overwhelmingly by the Melbourne crowd, sixth-seeded Nadal won 2-6 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-4 7-5 at Rod Laver Arena. Medvedev, the US Open champion, was hoping to clinch his second straight major title.
The Russian had defended Novak Djokovic amid his COVID-19 vaccine debacle, for which he was kicked out of the country and barred from defending his title.
His attempts to circumvent Australia’s strict COVID-19 rules ended earlier this month when a court unanimously dismissed his challenge to a government minister’s decision to overturn his visa.
While Djokovic said he was “extremely disappointed” with the decision, he claimed he respected it.
Three Federal Court judges have upheld Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s decision to revoke the Serb’s visa on public interest grounds because he is not vaccinated.
As Nadal continued to wow the crowds, Chris Evans, Labor MP for Islwyn in South Wales and deputy chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for tennis, said the fiasco had overshadowed what is supposed to be an exciting opening competition for players. and the fans.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, he said: “As tennis fans, we haven’t had a major tournament since September with the US Open.
“You always look forward to the Australian Open, it’s just after Christmas, it’s usually pretty cold, but the pictures from Australia are beautiful, sunny and warm, and you think, ‘This is something to wait, summer is coming”.
“But, to be honest, it’s just messed up.
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After Nadal’s victory, Djokovic took to social media to congratulate his rival, writing in a tweet: “Congratulations to @RafaelNadal on the 21st GS.
“Incredible achievement. Always an impressive combativeness which reigned another time.
“Enhorabuena @Medwed33 gave his all and played with the passion and determination that we expect from him.”
Craig Tiley, CEO of Tennis Australia, says that while Djokovic’s Australian Open dreams are gone this year, there is still hope for the future.
He said: “Obviously he has to play this year, but that [returning in 2023] will be his intention.
“At the end of the day, he’s the No.1 player in the world and he really loves the Australian Open.”
Some reports suggest the Serb is preparing to take action against the decision in Australia.
But Mr Tiley dismissed suggestions the star could do so.
Asked if Tennis Australia was being prosecuted in an ABC TV interview earlier this month, he replied: “No.
“I mean there’s going to be a lot of reporting on different things, but we’re in a position where we’re focused on delivering an event right now and we will continue to deliver a great event.”