Novak Djokovic is currently being held in a Government detention hotel in Victoria after having his visa revoked at Melbourne Airport.
Novak Djokovic “is not the most popular boy” and is maligned for disrupting the likes of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal – according to his former coach. Boris Becker, who worked with the Serbian for three seasons after teaming up with him in 2014, helped him capture six Grand Slam titles and 14 Masters 1000 event wins.
Two of those title wins came at the Australian Open, the very tournament that has propelled Djokovic into the centre of a current media storm following a bizarre series of events this week.
After months of speculation over his potential eligibility to play in Melbourne, with tournament organisers making it mandatory for players to be vaccinated against Covid-10 to compete, the world no 1 announced via Instagram this week he had qualified for a medical exemption and would be taking part.
That prompted outrage from Australian politicians, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison warning the 34-year-old he would still need to prove the validity of his exemption upon his arrival down under
Sure enough, on Wednesday, Djokovic landed at Melbourne Airport only to have his visa revoked by border officials, who then held him an isolation and interrogated him for several hours.
It was then announced he would be deported out of Australia on Thursday, but his legal team then sought to get an injunction in a bid to overturn the decision.
Djokovic is now being detained in a Government detention hotel in Carlton, where he will remain until Monday at least when the outcome of his appeal his due.
Sympathy for the 20-time Grand Slam winner has seemingly been in short supply, with Nadal publicly saying his rival put himself in this position by opting not to be vaccinated. There has also been ample vitriol from tennis fans who have long struggled to take Djokovic to their hearts.
But Becker, 54, has said Djokovic has been unique in his own right, and has drawn unpopularity by challenging the previous established order set by Federer and Nadal.
“People should remember that this is a very different and special individual who had a difficult route to the top. He is not the same as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal and came up a very different way,” wrote Becker in his Daily Mail column.
“He was not the most popular boy in the class, you might say, he is Novak Djokovic from Serbia and disrupted the other two crowd favourites.
“He has an extreme diet and an extreme lifestyle to give himself the best chance, and ultimately you have to say he has made the right decisions because the results show it.”
Djokovic is now at risk of missing the opportunity to move clear of his two fellow all-time greats by winning an unprecedented 21st Slam, and Becker did concede he disagrees with the stance taken by his former client.
“As his former coach I am so close to Novak Djokovic that I would almost regard him as family — but like in all families you sometimes have disagreements.
“And on this occasion I think he is making a big mistake in not getting vaccinated. It is one that threatens what remains of his career and his chance to cement himself as the greatest player of all time.”
Nadal will be appearing in Melbourne, while Federer has been out of action since undergoing knee surgery last year.