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Zverev: I Feel Sorry for Djokovic

By Richard Pagliaro | Monday, January 17, 2022

Alexander Zverev shattered Novak Djokovic's golden dream at the Tokyo Olympics and sympathized with the world No. 1 after his deportation from Australia.

The third-seeded Zverev defeated Daniel Altmaier 7-6, 6-1, 7-6 in his all-German Australian Open opener on Monday.

Nadal on Djokovic: No Player is Bigger Than The Event

Afterward, Zverev said he feels sorry for the criticism the unvaccinated Djokovic has received after his visa was cancelled twice before he departed the nation on Sunday.

"It is very difficult for him, I think, to be in a position that he is in now," Zverev said of Djokovic. "I think the whole world is talking about it. The whole world is talking about one of the greatest athletes to ever live in such a negative way, which I find very difficult.

"In my perspective, I feel a little bit sorry for him in the way that, you know, how the world and how the people speak about him now."

Tennis Express

The two-time ATP Finals champion said he understands the reaction of the Australian public and government after the state of Victoria endured some of the most severe Coronavirus pandemic lockdowns in the world. However, Zverev said if Djokovic's medical exemption and visa hadn't been approved in the first place, he would not have boarded a plane Down Under.

"Look, Australia has suffered a lot," said Zverev, who faces Aussie John Millman in the second round. "Australia has been, you know, a closed country for almost two years, and I understand it from that perspective, I understand the tough rules that we had last year.

"I understand the Australian people's perspective, I understand the Australian government perspective. But I also do believe there should have been more communication between the Victorian government and the Australian government before Novak came here, because once Novak came here, it was very obvious that all of this would start if the government didn't approve of his visa."

Sixth-seeded Rafael Nadal, like Zverev, resides in the top half of the AO draw vacated by nine-time champion Djokovic.

Following his 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 first-round win over American Marcos Giron, Nadal called the Djokovic saga "a mess" and said while many share the blame "of course he is one of the responsible."

"Honestly I wish him all the best. I think the situation have been a mess," Nadal told the media in Melbourne. "He's not the only one that did probably the things bad in that case.

"Of course, there is more responsibles on all this terrible situation that we faced for the last two weeks. But of course he is one of the responsibles, too. So in a personal level, yes, I would like to see him playing here. If is fair or not that he's playing here is another discussion that I don't want to talk anymore about that."

Photo credit: Getty