Boris Becker defends Novak Djokovic as he claims Australian Open fiasco ‘hurts my soul’
Novak Djokovic's vaccine status bashed by Aussie TV presenter
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Boris Becker has defended his former player Novak Djokovic amid his nightmare preparations ahead of the Australian Open. The three-time Wimbledon champion coached the Serbian for three years and has a relationship and understanding of Djokovic very few in the tennis world can claim.
Like many, the German has been following the events of the past week as Djokovic’s visa was revoked once he landed in Australia, before being detained while awaiting the result of his appeal on Monday morning (tonight in the UK).
It was reported that he was unable to provide the necessary documents for a controversial medical exemption, which he announced he had been granted ahead of his departure for Down Under.
There has been a huge backlash from members of the Australian public and around the world and now Becker has come out in support of the player he once guided.
Becker, speaking to BILD newspaper, said: “You have to respect your decision. Just because you don’t get vaccinated doesn’t mean you are automatically a bad person.”
Djokovic is currently being detained in a quarantine hotel, where refugees stay, as he awaits the outcome of his appeal and Becker admitted his situation hurts him “in the soul.”
He also backed up Djokovic when speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, adding: “Novak had a medical exemption, along with five other players in the draw – he was dealing directly with the Australian Open, it was professionally done.
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“He didn’t break any rules, they were allowed to play, but obviously some Australians haven’t seen their families in a year and a half or two years.
“I understand the public outcry but I want to defend Djokovic a little bit because he wouldn’t have flown without an exemption.
On the other hand, the former world number thinks the nine-time Australian Open champion made a mistake to not get vaccinated.
“I would almost regard him as family – but like in all families you sometimes have disagreements,” Becker recently told the Daily Mail.
“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 players of all time.
“Four times I sat in his box as he won the Australian Open, so I am fully aware of his great strengths as an incredible competitor.
“I would urge him to get vaccinated – although whether he would listen is another matter.
“I also accept that as someone in my fifties I look at my health in a different way from those in their twenties and thirties who feel more invincible.”
For the majority of his career Djokovic has been playing second fiddle to Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal regarding fan support.
He has been involved in some controversial incidents in the last two years and Becker thinks the tennis legend is often misunderstood.
“I also think he has a great character that can easily be misunderstood,” he added. “Yet these strengths can also be weaknesses.
“The same incredible determination which I saw win so many close matches can be a vulnerability with his stubbornness”.
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