in the locker room, the players hold their blows – Liberation

Invited to react to the soap opera that is shaking world tennis, many players on the professional circuit dodged the subject, while others were more vocal, supporting the world number 1 or calling for a return to the debates around the yellow ball.

In private or at a press conference, not a player from the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) escaped the glue: and the “Novax” Djokovic affair, then? For about ten days since the drama began, and even more so if we remember the month of December during which the participation of the Serb in the Australian Open was dotted, it is an understatement to say that the congregation players did not come to the rescue of their unvaccinated number 1. Without finishing Djokovic, the Scotsman Andy Murray sums up the story to a question of honor: “I’m not going to kick him while he’s down…”

In their majority, the players rejected the questions with a flick. No newspaper subscription (“I don’t know the facts well”), lukewarm (“everyone comes out a loser”) or, for the more precise, the identity of the real victim, the one whose word is gagged (“we spent two weeks not talking about tennis, let’s play now”). All this is not surprising: the environment generally tends to shove stinky socks under the bed.

Some got wet, like his friend Alexander Zverev (“Djokovic is a world-class superstar, someone you can use”), the unvaccinated Tennys Sandgren (“If he is expelled, it is clear that it is political”) and the local Nick Kyrgios, player without filter, who wants “Walking around Melbourne with my Djokovic mask”, which is not nothing when you know that the Australian has been drumming on the Serb like a punching bag for ages.

“None of us defended him”

Looking at the flood of comments, some voices weigh more than others. In the first place that of Rafael Nadal, seeded number 6 in the tournament, who scraps with Djokovic in the legend of their sport. “I disagree with a lot of things he’s done in the last two weeks,” reacted on Saturday the Spaniard, who has long repeated his support for vaccination. Before finishing the job: “The Australian Open is far more important than any player. It will be a big [tournoi] with or without [Djokovic].»

The French number 1 Alizé Cornet raised a crucial point which allows to restore order: “What I know is that Novak is always the first to defend the players. But none of us defended him.” she tweeted. Which also says a lot about the consequences that the case could have for Djokovic, who created a players’ union in 2020 and is not the last to protect the circuit against the authorities.

“The decision to confirm the cancellation of Novak Djokovic’s Australian visa brings to an end a series of deeply regrettable events”, wrote the ATP, which goes where the wind takes it. And to specify, as if it were necessary: “Court decisions regarding public health matters must be respected.” There remains the man who was to face “Nole” this Monday, replaced by the Italian Salvatore Caruso, his Serbian compatriot Miomir Kecmanovic. He, too, speaks of a kind of honor: he has announced that he will, “somehow”, “revenge” the monarch.




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