Pages: No vax Novak

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The score stands at 20-20-20. Federer, Nadal and Djokovic each own the same number of Grand Slam singles titles.

Roger, age 40, may add one more Wimbledon trophy to his glittering portfolio. Or he might retire this 2022. Rafa, riddled with injuries, can surely win two more French Open crowns.

Novak? Only 34 years young and still in the prime of his athletic career, the world No. 1 can handily compile five more major titles.

In the end, many acknowledge, the greatest will not be the Swiss or the Spaniard but the Serbian.

AUSTRALIAN OPEN. Tomorrow, the first tennis major unfolds in Melbourne. But there’s a major controversy that’s erupted — not on the tennis court but on the legal court.

My stand on this Djokovic drama?

I hope he gets deported and returns home. As much as I respect the Belgrade-born tennis combatant, his battles off the court have been perplexing. And this week’s controversy isn’t the first. Remember when he hit a line judge on the neck that resulted in his eviction at the US Open? Or his Adria Tour exhibition event last June 2020 in the Balkans that defied the rules and resulted in dozens getting Covid?

Controversy and Djokovic are synonyms. And I believe the Australian government is correct in disallowing him from playing tomorrow. Why?

First, the rule is very clear: No vax, no play. The only exception is if you get a medical clearance because of a major illness (after getting Covid). Novak has been perfectly healthy the past weeks.

Second, he lied. In the entry form, he said he had not been to other countries (but, in fact, travelled back and forth between Serbia and Spain).

Third, he did not follow the rules. The Serbian health service emailed him his Covid test results on Dec. 16 (same day he got the swab). What did Novak do? On Dec. 17, he attended an event with the kids and he was not wearing a mask. On Dec. 18, he had an interview with a journalist.

You see the pattern?

“Joke Covid” is how Djokovic wishes to pronounce his name.

The Australian government has been placed in a difficult position the past few days. Deny entry and playing rights to the three-time defending Australian Open champion, the one who’s reached the finals nine times and won all nine finals?

Yes. This issue has become bigger than one player or the sport of tennis. It has pitted the majority of the populace (who believe in vaccination) versus those who are pro-Novak and anti-vaccine.

It’s true that Tennis Australia, the organizers of the event, have some explaining to do. Why didn’t they coordinate with the border patrol on Novak’s case prior to his flying into Melbourne? Why embarrass the champion when he could have been told “No” and not travelled at all? This would have spared Novak the stress and embarrassment.

Imagine the all-time money leader of tennis (over $154 million in prize money) having to endure several days of detention in a windowless room?

Still, as a whole, the rule is clear: no jab, no job. Sadly, it’s no lob and no love for Novak.

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