'Selfish' Djokovic's exemption tough for players to accept, says Joao Sousa

By Sports Desk January 12, 2022

Novak Djokovic has been labelled "selfish" by Joao Sousa for arriving at the Australian Open unvaccinated, but uncertainty still surrounds the Serbian's participation in the event. 

World number one Djokovic was last week given a medical exemption to enter Australia, despite not being vaccinated, only for border officials to block it upon his arrival.

The 20-time grand slam winner was detained for four days while waiting to appeal the case on Monday, which went in his favour at Melbourne Circuit Court.

Djokovic has since started training ahead of the Australian Open, which begins on January 17, though immigration minister Alex Hawke may yet cancel his visa for a second time.

Should the 34-year-old be given the green light to compete at Melbourne Park, however, world number 140 Sousa says it will not sit right with others taking part.

"I respect that he fights for what he believes and I can be empathetic with what he is going through in Australia," Sousa is quoted as saying by Portuguese outlet Bola Amarela.

"But it's a bit selfish from him to arrive here as the only player unvaccinated. It's tough for us players to accept that."

Djokovic has been widely criticised for appearing on social media to mingle with the public in a series of appearances after returning a positive COVID-19 test on December 16.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Djokovic accepted he had made "an error of judgement" going ahead with an interview with French publication L'Equipe around that time.

Franck Ramella, the French journalist who conducted the 33-minute interview while Djokovic was COVID-19 positive, confirmed the tennis star wore a mask the whole time.

A decision on whether Djokovic can defend the title he has won a record nine times could be made on Thursday, when the draw for the main tournament is scheduled to take place.

Related items

  • Ruud sets up Geneva semi-final with Opelka, Norrie advances in Lyon Ruud sets up Geneva semi-final with Opelka, Norrie advances in Lyon

    Casper Rudd set up a semi-final clash with Reilly Opelka by claiming a straight-sets win over Thanasi Kokkinakis at the Geneva Open, while Cameron Norrie made his third semi-final of 2022 at the Lyon Open.

    World number eight Rudd, who claimed the title in Geneva last year with a straight-sets final win over Denis Shapovalov, overcame Kokkinakis 6-4 7-6 (7-3) on Thursday and will now face Opelka.

    The American bounced back from losing the second set against Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor to claim a 6-4 3-6 6-3 win as he bids for his third title of 2022, and second seed Ruud said he was excited to pit himself against Opelka after securing his spot in the semi-finals.

    "I expect it to be tough," Ruud said. "But I will do my best and see how I can do. I always enjoy playing against Reilly. He is a similar age to myself, and it will be another battle against him – hopefully it will be a good one."

    Elsewhere, three-time grand slam semi-finalist Richard Gasquet followed up his shock win over Daniil Medvedev with a 6-2 6-4 victory over Kamil Majchrzak, and will face Joao Sousa for a place in the final after the Portuguese beat Ilya Ivashka 7-5 7-5.

    At the Lyon Open, top seed Norrie battled to a 6-4 4-6 7-5 win over Sebastian Baez, spurning three match points before finally downing the Argentinian after a marathon two hours and 40 minutes clash.

    The world number 11 will face Holger Rune in his semi-final contest after the 19-year-old came from a set down to beat Manuel Guinard 3-6 6-3 6-4.

    The other semi-final in France will see fourth seed Alex de Minaur take on Alex Molcan after the Australian's quarter-final opponent Yosuke Watanuki withdrew after losing the first set 6-4, citing a back issue.

    Molcan, meanwhile, downed Federico Coria 6-3 6-2 to reach the final four.

  • Kerber reaches first clay semi-final since 2016 as Pliskova marches on in Strasbourg Kerber reaches first clay semi-final since 2016 as Pliskova marches on in Strasbourg

    Angelique Kerber defeated Magda Linette in three sets at the Internationaux de Strasbourg to reach her first clay-court semi-final since 2016.

    World number 22 Kerber rolled back the years with a battling 6-2 4-6 6-4 victory in a time of a little over two hours on Thursday.

    She converted four of her nine break points and will now face the unseeded Oceane Dodin, who needed just an hour to overcome Viktorija Golubic 6-3 6-0.

    Top seed Karolina Pliskova continued her progression with a 6-4 7-6 (8-6) victory over Maryna Zanevska, meanwhile, and will take on Kaja Juvan for a place in the final after she beat fourth seed Elise Mertens 7-6 (7-3) 6-4.

    Pliskova, who saved four set points in the tie-break, is aiming to become the fourth Czech champion in Strasbourg.

    At the Grand Prix Sar La Princesse Lalla Meryem, Anna Bondar is the last seed standing after opponent Ajla Tomljanovic retired injured when 5-1 down in the opener.

    Clair Liu saw off Astra Sharma 6-4 6-1 to reach the semi-finals in Morocco, while Lucia Bronzetti and Martina Trevisan will meet in the other final-four showdown.

    Bronzetti outlasted third seed Nuria Parrizas-Diaz 6-1 3-6 7-6 (7-5) while Liu beat Astra Sharma 6-4 6-1.

  • French Open: Djokovic, Alcaraz and Nadal all on same side of draw at Roland Garros French Open: Djokovic, Alcaraz and Nadal all on same side of draw at Roland Garros

    Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz are all on the same half of the draw at the French Open, while women's world number one Iga Swiatek will face a qualifier in the first round at Roland Garros.

    Djokovic, who will make his Grand Slam return having missed the Australian Open, opens in Paris against Yoshihito Nishioka, while record 21-time grand slam winner Nadal meets Australia's Jordan Thompson.

    The veteran pair of Djokovic and Nadal could challenge each other in the quarter-finals in the top half of the draw, where Alcaraz could come across world number three Alexander Zverev.

    Alcaraz faces a qualifier in the first round and has won 16 of his last 17 matches, with the one blemish on his remarkable run coming against Sebastian Korda, who the Spaniard could meet in the third round.

    Daniil Medvedev will have to get past Argentine Facundo Bagnis in the first round, while Lorenzo Musetti stands in the way of last year's runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas.

    Medvedev and Tsitsipas are joined in the wide-open bottom half of the draw by Casper Ruud and Andrey Rublev, who meet home favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and South Korea's Soonwoo Kwon respectively.

    In the women's draw, 2020 champion Swiatek comes in as favourite and will look to continue her 28-match winning streak when she faces a qualifier in the first round, as does US Open winner Emma Raducanu.

    The Brit will then take on Aliaksandra Sasnovich or Wang Xinyu before a potential last-16 meeting with Ons Jabeur, who first has to get past Poland's Magda Linette.

    Meanwhile, Karolina Pliskova – who has a first-round clash with France's Tessah Andrianjafitrimo – could set up a quarter-final meeting with Swiatek, but the Pole may have to get past Simona Halep in the fourth round first.

    Defending champion Barbora Krejcikova starts against Diane Parry, while Naomi Osaka was drawn against the in-form Amanda Anisimova, who beat the Japanese in the third round of the Australian Open.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.