NOVAK DJOKOVIC is making his return to tennis at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
Novak Djokovic has been labelled ‘gutsy’ for remaining steadfast in his opinion about the Covid vaccine despite the negative impact it could have on his Grand Slam race with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
Nadal Australian Open heroics were ‘written in the stars’ says rival
The world No 1 admitted earlier this week that he will not change his stance on the vaccine and is ‘prepared’ to miss the French Open, Wimbledon and other tennis tournaments.
Djokovic is in the midst of a thrilling battle with Nadal and Federer to be recognised as the GOAT of tennis.
Spaniard Nadal currently has the most Grand Slams after taking advantage of Djokovic’s absence at the Australia Open to claim a historic 21st title.
Djokovic, who is locked with Federed on 20, had been heavily fancied to finish his career with the most titles but now faces an uncertain future in the sport due to his refusal to be jabbed.
He has already discovered the perils of not being vaccinated in his line of work, having been kicked out of Australia earlier this year and denied the chance to compete at the Rod Laver Arena following a lengthy saga that ended up being settled in the courtrooms.
Djokovic, Nadal and Federer
Novak Djokovic has admitted his battle with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer is not his priority.
After being detained by Border Force officials on his arrival to Melbourne and having his visa revoked, Djokovic opened up on the debacle earlier this week.
Speaking to the BBC, Djokovic outlined his intentions to remain unvaccinated, even if it means giving Nadal and Federer the chance to break clear of him in terms of Grand Slam titles.
“I am extremely surprised by Novak’s statement,” he said in a video. “I would never ever think that would be his choice.
“We all know that he is competing to be the greatest, he is competing with Rafa [Nadal] and Roger [Federer], he is in the best possible position, he is the youngest of the three. He is the one that is winning more Grand Slams every [on] average.
“He puts his belief in not getting vaccinated above this race to be the greatest. That’s extremely powerful. It just shows the type of person he is, and I say it in a positive way. He has very strong beliefs and he has the guts to stand by his beliefs whatever the situation is.
“I would think that after what happened in Australia he would have said ‘I can become the greatest of all time, I really have a big shot for that. I accept to be vaccinated. Plus, if I do so, people will stop being against me.’ But he took the opposite way.
“I think that someone who stands by his beliefs, even though the immense majority of the people are going against him, deserves total respect. Whatever your opinion on the subject is.”
He admitted on Thursday he can’t wait to compete again, saying: “I always love Dubai. Love coming here.
“I have had plenty of tennis success and I am excited to go out on the tennis court next Monday.
“I missed tennis honestly after everything that has happened in a previous couple of months.”