Former world No 1 Justine Henin has declared that Novak Djokovic’s burning desire to win more Grand Slam titles than Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer will see him return to the court with a vengeance in the near future. The Serb is currently watching the Australian Open from home after he was unceremoniously deported from the country on the eve of the tournament earlier this month.
Djokovic was detained shortly upon his arrival in Australia earlier this month before he was released and then detained again due to concerns over his medical exemption to gain entry.
He was eventually forced to return to Serbia after a last-gasp appeal was rejected out of hand, leaving him unable to compete at the first Grand Slam of the new year.
The controversial situation raised plenty of additional questions over whether Djokovic will be prevented from playing at this year’s remaining Majors if he fails to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
He is currently tied with Nadal and Federer on 20 titles each and has made no secret of his desire to emerge as the sport’s most decorated male player before his eventual retirement.
Henin, who spent 117 weeks as the highest ranked female player during her 12-year career, has since jumped to Djokovic’s defence by pointing out that he only travelled to Australia after receiving a medical exemption from the vaccine.
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She also told reporters that Djokovic will be desperate to resume his battle for supremacy with Nadal and Federer upon his return to the Grand Slam circuit.
“It’s very difficult to say, because we are not in the privacy of the player,” explained Henin when quizzed on the topic.
“Of course, Djokovic made mistakes and he admitted them, which also cannot testify to a feeling of ‘super power’ that he would have.
“If he went to Australia, it was because he was told that this exemption gave him the right to do so. We can therefore also understand his discomfort.
“I think right now Djokovic must be exhausted and not very good in his sneakers. He’ll probably need some calm, but he’s been through some tough times in his life.
“I think he has the resources and he’s going to find the energy to get back to work and go for the records that he dreams, because he is animated by it.”
Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether Djokovic will be able to return at the French Open later this year in order to defend his title at Roland Garros.
It has been reported that he may be allowed to take part in the tournament under new rules mandating the use of vaccine passports in order to enter public places.
The passport can also be attributed to those who have recovered from Covid in the last six months, meaning that Djokovic should experience little difficulty in moving freely around the country after testing positive in mid-December.
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Victoria Azarenka was among the players to call for greater clarity from tennis’ governing bodies over vaccination rules in order to prevent a future repeat of the recent Australian Open debacle involving Djokovic.
“Nobody looked good in any case, it became a bit of a circus,” said Azarenka earlier this week.
“As soon as there is a grey area in the rules then that [brings up] a bit too [many] questions and situations like this happen.
“I think on certain things a black and white approach is necessary, and in my opinion this should be the case.”