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Rafael Nadal decision mounts more pressure on Novak Djokovic amid COVID-19 vaccination row, Todd Woodbridge says


Tennis great Todd Woodbridge has voiced what millions of fans are thinking about Novak Djokovic‘s COVID-19 vaccination row following Rafael Nadal‘s public commitment to the Australian Open.

Nadal has revealed at a sponsor opportunity at the Paris Masters that he planned to compete in Australia’s grand slam in 2022, after returning from a long injury lay-off at an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi in December.

If Djokovic opts against competing in January’s Australian Open because of the ‘no jab, no play’ ultimatum and Nadal competes and wins, the Serbian superstar will be trailing in the fight for most career grand slams. Djokovic, Nadal and Roger Federer are currently equal on 20 major wins.

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Woodbridge, a winner of 16 grand slams in men’s doubles, declared that Nadal’s commitment to the Australian Open had placed Djokovic under even greater pressure than before.

“One thing (that) stood out to me today is that Novak has been laid the challenge from Rafael Nadal,” Woodbridge said on 2GB’s Wide World of Sports radio.

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“Now, the challenge within that is, ‘does he win the tournament and take 21 (major wins) and get back in front?’ Does Novak want to let him do that? I’m sure he won’t want (Nadal) to be in that position, so at some point Novak is going to have to make that call (as to whether he gets vaccinated).

“Novak – he continues to keep us guessing. But, in the end, it’s only building pressure on him to make a decision one way or the other. And – who knows? – maybe he already has.”

It’s actually not known if Djokovic has been vaccinated, but his refusal to confirm, anti-vaccination comments and unconventional approach to health have led many to assume that he has not received the jab.

Victoria premier Daniel Andrews said last week that he expected all players competing in the Australian Open “to be double-vaxxed”.

Mr Andrews’ comments followed the leaking of an email giving hope to unvaccinated players.

The email, leaked to Women’s Tennis Association players, stated that the unvaccinated could arrive in Australia any time after December 1 but would need to undergo two weeks of hotel quarantine. It also said players would have to commit to regular COVID-19 testing.

Djokovic has won the last three Australian Open titles and a record nine across his glittering career.



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