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Nadal would 'welcome' Djokovic playing slams if he can do so unvaccinated

Nadal and Djokovic

Acapulco, February 21: Rafael Nadal would "welcome" seeing Novak Djokovic play at future Grand Slam tournaments if he is granted permission to do so unvaccinated against COVID-19.

World No.1 Djokovic has courted controversy for his views on being jabbed and was last month deported from Australia on the eve of the Australian Open.

Djokovic has confirmed he is willing to miss future slams after stating he was prioritising his right to choose what to put into his body above his sporting ambitions.

'More important than any title' – Djokovic prepared to miss more grand slams over vaccination stance'More important than any title' – Djokovic prepared to miss more grand slams over vaccination stance

In Djokovic's absence, Nadal became Australian Open champion and now has 21 titles – the most for a male player.

Nadal believes that any further omissions from Djokovic would only be harmful to the Serbian's chances of history not the slams themselves, but he would have no issue with his rival playing in the sport's biggest tournaments.

Rafael Nadal Grand Slams Titles: Complete List of Grand Slams Won By Nadal Till NowRafael Nadal Grand Slams Titles: Complete List of Grand Slams Won By Nadal Till Now

Speaking ahead of his return to the ATP Tour in Acapulco, Nadal said: "It will affect Novak's [Grand Slam] history if he can't play.

"It will affect him, not the Grand Slams themselves. Whoever wins the most slams – it will be what it will be. Everyone takes their own decisions and must live with them.

"In that sense, hopefully the pandemic subsides and we stop having so many deaths around the world and this horror ends, and we can return to normality – not for Novak but for the world in general.

"There are many people that have suffered, but if Novak can play the Grand Slams unvaccinated, then he is welcome."

Nadal defeated Daniil Medvedev in an epic Melbourne showpiece to become the first man to 21 slams, but he says the achievement has not changed his life.

"Absolutely nothing has changed having 21 slams, I won't lie to you," he added.

Rafa Reigns: Nadal fights back to clinch the Australian Open and lift 21st Grand Slam titleRafa Reigns: Nadal fights back to clinch the Australian Open and lift 21st Grand Slam title

"From 20 to 21 there is not a very large difference. Life goes on exactly the same. The only thing that has changed is that now I play tennis, which a few months ago I couldn't.

"I am very happy for everything that happened in Australia, it was very unexpected, especially before the tournament started. In my life, nothing has changed. No title is going to change what is important in my life, which are other things.

"Already, at 35 years old, I have a lot of experiences behind me, of successes and bad moments and these sensations already help me to live in a more calm and different way."

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Story first published: Monday, February 21, 2022, 16:00 [IST]
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