Rafael Nadal, other Australian Open players are tired of Djokovic’s saga. CBC Sports

Rafael Nadal, other Australian Open players are tired of Djokovic's saga.  CBC Sports

Rafael Nadal’s first Grand Slam match in more than seven months is on the horizon. He is coming back from a painful left foot problem that limited him to a tournament in the last half of last season and he got COVID-19 in December.

Lots to talk about, isn’t it? After all, it is the owner of 20 major championships and is one of the most important figures in the history of tennis. His appearance at an Australian Open pre-tournament news conference on Saturday was new – or, rather, would have been much more on any other occasion.

Ah, yes, the run-up to this Australian Open has been, and looks like it will continue, Novak Djokovic and his hopes of defending the title in the vaccination-required competition, while not being vaccinated against the coronavirus Is. So Nadal’s words and body language spoke for many in the tennis world as he shrugged his shoulders, exhaled and spoke about his longtime opponent’s wish-he-play-or-not-he saga. : “Honestly, I’m a little tired of the situation.”

Nadal said, ‘Australian Open is more important than any player. “If he’s playing, in the end, fine. If he’s not playing, the Australian Open will be a great Australian Open, with or without him. That’s my point of view.”

Unlike Djokovic, Nadal has got his shots. As in there are a total of 97 out of the top 100 in the ATP rankings and 96 out of the top 100 in the WTA rankings.

Garbine Muguruza, two-time majors champion, said: “All of this could have been avoided, as we all have done, by getting vaccinated, doing everything we had to do to get to Australia.” Spain has been seeded number 3 in the women’s section. “Everyone knew the rules very clearly. You just have to follow them and that’s it. I don’t think it’s that difficult.”

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Rafael Nadal, other Australian Open players are tired of Djokovic's saga. CBC Sports

Novak Djokovic blames human error for wrong travel announcement

Novak Djokovic says human error is to blame for a false travel manifesto, which claimed the tennis champion had not traveled for two weeks before arriving in Australia for an upcoming tournament in Melbourne. 1:52

For now, No. 1 seed Djokovic is scheduled to play on Monday, the first day of the year’s first major tournament, where he and Nadal will both claim the 21st Grand Slam trophy with Roger Federer currently breaking the men’s mark. can claim.

Before that, though, Djokovic – and, it seems, everyone else with any interest in tennis or the latest developments related to the pandemic – will wait to see what happens at Sunday’s court hearings on each other’s appeals. . His visa was revoked by the Australian government.

He could be deported.

‘Not enough tennis has been talked about’

“I won’t lie: It’s been on pretty much every news outlet over the past few weeks. It’s gotten a lot of attention. A lot of people are obviously talking about it,” said 23-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas. He is from Greece, who is ranked No. 4 at Melbourne Park and was Djokovic’s runner-up at last year’s French Open. “That’s why I’m here to talk about tennis. … Not enough tennis hasn’t been talked about in the past few weeks, which is a shame.”

Typically, the Australian Open – known as the “Happy Slam” – serves as a celebration of a new tennis season.

Players are getting a chance to rest, recharge and prepare during the off-season. They have a clean, or mostly clean, slate, depending on whether they have played any tune-up matches. Some appear with wrinkles in their playing style. Some come along with a new coach, eager to see how the relationship might work out.

No. 32 said, “It feels like this is taking us away from competitors who are just looking to start. We look forward to going out and competing. The Australian Open is always an incredible event, my home slam, my favorite.” Tournament.” Seeded Alex de Minaur, a 22-year-old Australian. “At the end of the day, tennis is an individual sport, and we’ve all been in Australia for a while, getting ready for this tournament. We all just want to get on with our stuff.”

Areas of story and intrigue abound in Melbourne. Considering notable players including Federer, Serena Williams and Venus Williams have been absent for one reason or another, something different was bound to happen this time around.

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Rafael Nadal, other Australian Open players are tired of Djokovic's saga. CBC Sports

Canadians to watch at the 2022 Australian Open

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But Nadal’s return to Slam action for the first time since his loss to Djokovic in Paris in June is a big deal.

So, Australian Open champion Naomi is also defending Osaka’s arrival, which she says is a new approach in 2021 after taking two mental health breaks, with her season ending in September.

Given Osaka’s candid revelations about depression and anxiety, Saturday was a worthwhile day when she all but smiled. When he joked with reporters. When she looked comfortable

As did Nadal. He said he is thrilled to be back on tour. Well done exercise. He noted his “positive attitude” and “spirit to work”.

Only when the subject was Djokovic, Nadal seemed less than excited.

Regarding someone who has played a tour-record 58 times since 2006, Nadal said, “I wish him all the best. I really respect him.” [do] I don’t agree with a lot of things that he has done in the last few weeks.”