Four months after the infamous visa controversy that kept Novak Djokovic out of the Australian Open, the Serb continues to find support both within the tennis fraternity and outside of it. Italian historian Vittorio Sgarbi was the latest to criticize the Australian government for the way they dealt with the situation, calling their decision cowardly.
Djokovic, who is unvaccinated, arrived in Melbourne to defend his Australian Open title in January armed with a medical exemption. This did not sit well with the authorities, who canceled his visa and detained him at a hotel for refugees.
The Serb had the order overturned, but Australia’s immigration minister took matters into his own hands and cancelled the Serb’s visa for a second time, leading to his deportation.
— Vittorio Sgarbi (@VittorioSgarbi) May 18, 2022
Referring to the 20-time Grand Slam champion’s triumph at the Italian Open last week, Vittorio Sgarbi stated in a YouTube video that Djokovic “didn’t just win one tournament, he beat everyone who tried to stop him from playing. ”
“Djokovic didn’t just win one game, but he beat everyone who tried to stop him from playing. Art is individual, music is individual, sport is individual and neither the homeland nor the general position of a player can be denied,” he claimed.
“So, whoever prevented Djokovic from playing in Australia is a coward, it is a government that is incapable and claimed to treat him like a sick person. So sick that he arrived in Italy and won as soon as these restrictions invented by inept people were lifted.”
Sgarbi went on to describe Djokovic as “the symbol of freedom and courage”, adding that the Serb had his support.
s soon as Djokovic had a chance to be what he is, he won. I see a world of miserable, incapable and cowardly. Djokovic is the symbol of freedom, of courage, I am with him and I am happy to support him on this extraordinary occasion,” Sgarbi concluded.
Novak Djokovic’s tryst with controversies
Novak Djokovic is no stranger to controversy. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Djokovic organised the Adria Tour, a series of exhibition matches in Serbia and Croatia.
Adria Tour is just around the corner!🙌
Our co-founder @DjokerNole gathered amazing tennis players who will participate in this humanitarian sports event!
Everyone who bought tickets helped us improve the early childhood development of children in Serbia!https://t.co/xEvfniEF9G
— Novak Djokovic Foundation (@novakfoundation) June 11, 2020
The matches were planned at a time when ATP events had been put on hold. The Adria Tour came in for criticism for allowing full houses inside the stadiums and had to be scrapped when Grigor Dimitrov and several other players tested positive for the virus. Djokovic himself tested positive soon after.
The World No. 1 also courted controversy in Australia a year before his vaccination status led to his visa being revoked.
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) January 20, 2021
The Serb had called on the organisers of the 2021 Australian Open to arrange private homes with tennis courts for players in quarantine. After being criticized by the Australian media and public, the World No. 1 released a statement saying his good intentions were “misconstrued”.
A few months earlier, Djokovic lost his cool during his fourth-round match at the US Open. After dropping serve late in the first set, he struck a ball in frustration towards the advertising hoardings and unintentinally hit a female linesjudge in the throat. The Serb was defaulted and later apologized for his actions.
Novak Djokovic is currently in Paris gearing up for his Roland Garros title defense. He will launch his campaign against Yoshihito Nishioka.