Novak Djokovic must abide by everyone’s rules

Imagine if Novak Djokovic got three serves per point against two of his opponents.

Imagine if he fired his serve into the net, then protested that the net shouldn’t be there for his shot.

Imagine if he shouted while sending his opponent, then claimed that he had the right to say whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted…even in the middle of a point.

Imagine if he lost a set at the Australian Open, and then he just announced that set didn’t happen.

Anyone with the slightest understanding of tennis rules, traditions, or basic common sense will dismiss all of these complaints without hesitation for a moment. But Djokovic is trying to move exactly such absurd scenarios, only on a larger scale. It’s in a country where more than 90 percent of adults have been vaccinated, and everyone is living under strict lockdown rules for most of the pandemic…and it is.

At best, the nine-time winner of the Australian Open is trying to beat the country’s vaccination policies in order to compete for a historic specialty. At worst, he just doesn’t care. Either way, from a tennis perspective, he’s trying to smash a ball over his head onto a ball that’s already bounced three times.

Djokovic. He was trying to enter the country under a medical exemption, the basis of his argument being that he had contracted the coronavirus in December and therefore could not be a carrier. Tennis Australia and the state of Victoria accepted this argument, and granted a visa allowing Djokovic to play.

But while Djokovic was on his way to Melbourne earlier this month, he claimed that Djokovic had “failed to provide adequate evidence to meet the entry requirements for Australia”. Judge, based in part on the idea that Djokovic was not given sufficient time to respond – the cancellation came 48 minutes before the deadline given to Djokovic to respond.

But on Friday, Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke again revoked Djokovic’s visa “for reasons of health and good order, on the grounds that it is in the public interest to do so”. . Djokovic’s lawyers are expected to resume, Djokovic’s immediate future and long-term prospects in Australia are at stake. This year’s Australian Open begins on Monday, and requests like Hawk Hawk usually come with a three-year ban on entry to Australia.

Novak Djokovic prepares in Australia while he awaits the final verdict on his status.  (Lauren Elliott/Reuters)

Novak Djokovic prepares in Australia while he awaits the final verdict on his status. (Lauren Elliott/Reuters)

It’s not hard to see why tennis Australia would want Djokovic. He’s tied with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in 20 majors, most of the time between men. He has won eight of the 11 Australian Opens since 2011, including the last three in a row. In Australia, he beat Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray several times, winning in straight sets and a five-set marathon. The Australian Open was looking forward to the history unfolding in its stadiums.

But this time, Djokovic’s toughest opponents are not his fellow players. He’s staring at the entire Australian government out of protecting its citizens, and perhaps even more motivated to save face in the midst of an international crisis.

During the pandemic, Australia has seen some of the strictest lockdowns on the entire planet, with curfews imposed, travel bans to three miles from homes and residents allowed to leave their homes for just two hours a day. Australia was one of the only countries in the world to attempt a coronavirus eradication strategy, combining strict barriers to entry along with extensive contact tracing and quarantine.

The Omicron wave blew across the country regardless, prompting the country to reconsider using Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s words. However, the idea of ​​an unvaccinated international star traveling to the country for a tournament while the population has been under restrictions for many years has drawn widespread criticism.

“There should be no special rules for Novak Djokovic at all. Nothing,” adding that if Djokovic did not meet with regulatory approval, he would be on “next house”.

You can argue – and heaven knows that Australia and the rest of the world has it – whether mandates, masks and lockdowns are working to stop the spread of the pandemic. this is good. But once you set the rules, that’s it – stick to them or play somewhere else.

To understand why Djokovic is trying to get around Australia’s vaccination rules, let alone keep fighting after suffering some obvious losses, you have to understand what’s driving him. Goats are not like the people who watch them from the stands. Don’t become one of the greatest athletes in history by worrying about other people’s feelings.

Djokovic grew up amid the bombs and destruction of war-ravaged Belgrade and turned into the greatest tennis player in history. Do you think he will allow some bureaucratic regulation to get in his way? To express regret over elements of the Australia saga “Okay, here’s an apology, happy now?” I feel it.

The concept of “common sacrifice” is alien to elite athletes, I, first, I’m just like winning a Grand Slam event to the rest of us. When there is some wiggle room, they will find it, whether it is Djokovic who is hiring lawyers to take his case to Australian authorities or Aaron Rodgers saying he is “immune” – not vaccinated, but he certainly wanted everyone to believe so – when asked about his vaccination status. Sacrifice, in their mind, is what the rest of us do so that the winners can continue to win.

However, at some point, even history’s greatest heroes face the rules hard even if they can’t break them, whether it’s on the field or on a slow, relentless march of time. Djokovic is at that point now. He took his best shot, but failed. He may not be used to feeling this kind of disappointment, but the rest of us have been suffering from it for 23 months now.

Djokovic can blame COVID, he can blame faceless bureaucrats, he can blame an unfair world for not bending to his will. But at some point, he’ll have to blame himself, too.


Jay Busby is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at jaybusbee or reach out to him at

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