Tennis: Australian Open more important than any player, says Nadal of Djokovic

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MELBOURNE (REUTERS) - Rafael Nadal said on Saturday (Jan 15) "too many questions" still needed to be answered concerning Novak Djokovic's bid to play at the Australian Open, while other leading players lamented how the saga had overshadowed the year's first Grand Slam.

The lead-up to the tournament has been completely dominated by world No. 1 Djokovic's battle to compete at Melbourne Park in the face of a government trying to deport him after cancelling his visa twice.

Questions remain over how Djokovic was given a health exemption by Australian authorities to play in the tournament without being vaccinated for Covid-19, only to have his visa cancelled on arrival.

Doubts have also been raised over the positive Covid-19 test that underpinned the health exemption, though a Serbian health ministry official defended the player this week.

Spanish great Nadal, level on a record 20 Grand Slam titles with Djokovic and the absent Roger Federer, said he wished him "all the very best" but wanted more details about his case.

"From my point of view (there) is a lot of questions that need to be answered," Nadal told reporters at Melbourne Park.

"In some ways I think (it) will be good if everything clarifies soon, no?

"I really respect him, even if I (do) not agree with a lot of things that he did the last couple of weeks."

After having his visa cancelled for a second time on Friday (Jan 14), Djokovic will fight to have the decision overturned at a court hearing on Sunday (Jan 16).

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