Rafael Nadal, other gamers at Australian Open rising uninterested in Djokovic saga

Rafael Nadal’s first Grand Slam match in additional than seven months is on the horizon, he’s getting back from a painful left foot drawback that restricted him to at least one match during the last half of final season and he acquired COVID-19 in December.

Plenty to speak about, proper? This is, after all, the proprietor of 20 main championships and probably the most important figures within the historical past of tennis. His mere presence at an Australian Open pre-tournament information convention Saturday was newsworthy — or, relatively, would have been on just about any other event.

Ah, sure, the run-up to this Australian Open has been, and appears destined to proceed to be, all about Novak Djokovic and his hopes of defending the title at a vaccination-required competitors while not being vaccinated in opposition to the coronavirus. So Nadal’s phrases and physique language spoke for a lot of on the planet of tennis when he shrugged his shoulders, exhaled and uttered this about his long-time rival’s will-he-play-or-won’t-he saga: “Honestly, I’m a little bit tired of the situation.”

“The Australian Open is much more important than any player,” Nadal stated. “If he’s playing, finally, OK. If he’s not playing, the Australian Open will be a great Australian Open, with or without him. That’s my point of view.”

Unlike Djokovic, Nadal has gotten his photographs. As have a complete of 97 of the Top 100 within the ATP rankings and 96 of the Top 100 within the WTA rankings.

“All this could have been avoided, like we’ve all done, by getting vaccinated, doing all the things we had to do to come here in Australia,” stated two-time main champion Garbine Muguruza, a 28-year-old from Spain who’s seeded No. 3 within the girls’s bracket. “Everybody knew very clearly the rules. You just have to follow them and that’s it. I don’t think it’s that difficult.”

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For now, the No. 1-seeded Djokovic is scheduled to play Monday on Day 1 of the yr’s first main match, where each he and Nadal might declare a twenty first Grand Slam trophy to interrupt the boys’s mark they at the moment share with Roger Federer.

Before that, although, Djokovic — and, it appears, everybody else with any curiosity at all in tennis or the latest developments associated not directly to the pandemic — will wait to see what occurs in a court docket listening to Sunday on his attraction of a second revocation of his visa by the Australian government.

He may very well be deported.

‘Not sufficient tennis has been talked about’

“I won’t lie: It has been pretty much on every news outlet the last couple of weeks. It has received a lot of attention. A lot of people are obviously talking about it,” stated Stefanos Tsitsipas, a 23-year-old from Greece who’s seeded No. 4 at Melbourne Park and was the runner-up to Djokovic eventually yr’s French Open. “That’s why I’m here to talk about tennis. … Not enough tennis has been talked about in the last couple of weeks, which is a shame.”

Usually, the Australian Open — generally known as the “Happy Slam” — serves as a form of celebratory launch of a new tennis season.

Players are coming off an opportunity to relaxation, recharge and put together throughout the low season. They have a clear, or principally clear, slate, relying on whether or not they performed any tune-up matches. Some present up with wrinkles of their enjoying type. Some arrive with a new coach, wanting to see how the connection may work out.

“It feels like it’s taking away from us competitors who just want to start. We’re just eager to go out and compete. The Australian Open is always an incredible event, my home Slam, my favourite tournament,” stated No. 32-seeded Alex de Minaur, a 22-year-old Australian. “At the end of the day, tennis is an individual sport, and we’ve all been here in Australia for a while, getting ready for this tournament. We all just want to get on with our own stuff.”

Storylines and areas of intrigue are typically plentiful in Melbourne. As it’s, this time was destined to be a bit completely different, given the noteworthy gamers who’re absent for one purpose or one other, together with Federer, Serena Williams and Venus Williams.

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But Nadal’s return to Slam motion for the primary time since a semifinal loss to Djokovic in Paris in June is a giant deal.

So, too, is defending Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka’s arrival with what she says is a contemporary outlook after taking two psychological health breaks in 2021, together with one that ended her season in September.

Given Osaka’s frank revelations about melancholy and nervousness, it was significant Saturday when she broke right into a full-on grin. When she joked round with reporters. When she appeared comfy as will be.

As did Nadal. He’s stated he is thrilled to be again on tour. Has been practising nicely. He talked about his “positive attitude” and “working spirit.”

Only when the subject was Djokovic did Nadal sound lower than excited.

“I wish him all the best. I really respect him,” Nadal stated about somebody he is performed a tour-record 58 occasions relationship to 2006, “even if I [do] not agree with a lot of things that he did the last couple of weeks.”

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