Boris Becker says there are ‘no winners’ from Novak Djokovic Australia deportation controversy

Novak Djokovic was deported from Australia on Sunday. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Six-time Grand Slam champion Boris Becker says there are no ‘winners’ from the Novak Djokovic deportation saga which has dominated tennis for the past fortnight.

The 34-year-old was deported from Australia on Sunday following the cancellation of his visa by immigration minister Alex Hawke, after the government minister argued Djokovic’s presence risked increasing anti-vaccine sentiment in a country which has placed strict restrictions upon its citizens since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Despite succeeding in his first appeal on technical grounds, which allowed him to remain in Australia until Hawke’s intervention, Djokovic lost a second court review and will no longer be able to defend his Australian Open title in Melbourne.

Becker is a former coach of Djokovic’s and told Eurosport that nobody comes out of the furore with their reputation enhanced.

‘I always had a bad feeling about this,’ the German said. ‘Any government is bigger than any individual. I was a bit surprised that the court ruled in his favour on Monday of last week, but obviously the government had the last word.

‘I don’t think there are any winners. Djokovic obviously pays the highest price, but Tennis Australia did not look good; the Victorian government did not look good; the country of Australia did not look good. It is something I find sad to say because it has been one of the most hospitable countries for so long, so I’m a little bit confused about what is going on there. But ultimately, there are very strict vaccination rules and they have made the difference.

Becker believes that the blow of missing out on his ‘favourite tournament’ will hurt Djokovic.

‘I don’t know what is on the inside. He is saying the right things. Obviously, it is a big blow for him. Australia is his favourite tournament, he has won it nine times. He wanted to break the record of 21 [Grand Slam singles titles]. There was no better chance for him than to play in Melbourne. Now, this chance is taken away, so I think deep down, he will be very frustrated.

Djokovic admitted to being unvaccinated in transcripts of an interview with border forces which were made public last week, and Becker says getting a jab would be the best thing for the Serb to do now.

‘[Vaccination] is the ultimate question. Life would be easier for him and anyone else who gets vaccinated. I think we all are, but the world is divided and he is the most famous of the anti-vaxxers. I’m sure the French Open has watched this saga; I’m sure Wimbledon has watched it. Let’s see, but the government restrictions will be there in May and June, I’m sure.

‘Let’s see what Novak does. The way out, the easiest thing for him, would be to get vaccinated. It’s tough to get your head around it, how much paperwork you have to do to play a tennis tournament.

‘It is tough enough to win a tennis tournament. Now his struggle is to get the right documents in order to participate in one. It’s crazy the world we live in, but that is the way it is. I think we have all had two years to accept it, and there is no other choice.”

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