Novak Djokovic case. Inadmissibility, classification, sponsors… Make way for the consequences

The year 2022 was to be that of Novak Djokovic’s ultimate consecration. Barely started, it turns into a fiasco for the Serb. In question, the choice of the 34-year-old player not to be vaccinated against Covid-19. A decision which has already caused his expulsion from Australia, after an interminable series, and which therefore deprives him of the first Grand Slam of the season. But the case could leave much more lasting traces. Without a change in his vaccination status, he faces many hardships in the weeks to come.

A world number 1 in danger

Sportsmen, already. In the immediate future, his absence in Melbourne could quickly have unfortunate consequences for his career. The deal is simple and the threat doubles for Djokovic. With this package, he will lose the 2,000 points he acquired with his title last year. If Daniil Medvedev (2nd at ATP) or Alexander Zverev (3rd) win in Melbourne, they will simply take the place of world number 1, occupied by the Serb since February 3, 2020.

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The Russian could even position himself as the new strongman on the circuit by winning a second consecutive Major after the US Open 2021… where he beat Djokovic (6-4, 6-4, 6-4) to deprive him of a Calendar Grand Slam and prevented the Serb from rising alone to the top of the most successful Grand Slam players.

A record that has become hypothetical

It’s no secret that Novak Djokovic is chasing the status of the best player in the history of tennis, at least from the point of view of the prize list, which he disputes with his competitors Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. His formidable 2021 season, where he won three Majors, allowed him to return to the height of the two legends with 20 Grand Slam titles. The Australian tournament, which he has already won nine times, seemed to be an opportunity to settle, alone, at the top of the hierarchy.

But the record will be postponed at best for the Serb, at worst largely threatened. His absence indeed offers the possibility to Rafael Nadal to come back in front. If the Spaniard has not won in Australia since 2009 – and no Grand Slam since 2020 – he won the ATP 250 in Melbourne for his first tournament of the year and knows he will have a golden opportunity.

A future in suspense

And nothing says that the Mallorcan or Federer will not have others during the season without Djokovic being able to do something about it. Although Roland-Garros has announced that it is working with the French authorities with a view to welcoming “non-vaccinated foreign players”, this will a priori not be the case if the pandemic situation does not improve.

At present, Wimbledon is not among the sporting events with exemptions and if the US Open starts tomorrow it would require a full vaccination regimen to be able to enter the United States.

A degraded image

Anyway, the image of Djokovic should come out once again damaged by this soap opera. With this “case”, and well helped by the statements of his family, he has become a face of the “anti-vax” protest on a global scale. So much so that he inherited a new inglorious nickname over the revelations about his health situation: « Novax ». Not enough to make the Serbian’s sponsors smile.

“I’m uncomfortable that so much attention has been focused on me over the last few weeks, and I hope we can now all focus on the game and the tournament that I love.”, said the Serb, eager to move on. But the case should follow him for a while longer.

He is not done at the legal level, since after the cancellation of his visa, he now risks a ban on entry into Australian territory for three years, for illegal entry into the country. This eventuality, if confirmed, could seriously jeopardize the rest of his career.