That’s how many Grand Slam singles titles Rafa Nadal now has after a sensational win at the Australian Open, putting him one clear of Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.
As much as it pains me to say it, Federer is unlikely to win another so it looks like a straight shootout between Nadal and Djokovic.
The 34-year-old Serb has time on his side, although Nadal is only a year older. What’s counting against him is his refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Speaking to the BBC, he made it clear that he would rather miss out on potential trophies than get the jab:
…he said he should not be associated with the anti-vax movement, but supported an individual’s right to choose.
Djokovic was asked if he would sacrifice taking part in competitions such as Wimbledon and the French Open over his stance on the vaccine.
“Yes, that is the price that I’m willing to pay,” he said…
“I was never against vaccination,” he told the BBC, confirming that he’d had vaccines as a child, “but I’ve always supported the freedom to choose what you put in your body.”
If he doesn’t want to play by the rules set by the respective tournaments then he can skip them.
Critics would argue that when it came to the Australian Open, he tried very hard to sidestep the rules.
In fact, even the veracity of his positive COVID-19 test result is being challenged.
That was also addressed during the interview:
“I understand that there is a lot of criticism, and I understand that people come out with different theories on how lucky I was or how convenient it is,” he acknowledged.
“But no-one is lucky and convenient of getting Covid. Millions of people have and are still struggling with Covid around the world. So I take this very seriously, I really don’t like someone thinking I’ve misused something or in my own favour, in order to, you know, get a positive PCR test and eventually go to Australia.”
…Asked if he was aware of any attempt to tamper with either of the tests he had done for Covid – earlier this month, BBC research cast doubt on the timing of a positive test – he flatly said no.
Djokovic also said that he was not deported from Australia because he wasn’t vaccinated or because he broke the rules. Rather, the Minister for Immigration, Alex Hawke, “used his discretion to cancel my visa based on his perception that I might create some anti-vax sentiment in the country or in the city, which I completely disagree with”.
He didn’t rule out getting the COVID-19 vaccine in the future, saying he was keeping an open mind “because we are all trying to find collectively, a best possible solution to end COVID”.
The full interview with Amol Rajan will air in the UK tonight. The BBC has made this clip available:
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