Novak Djokovic was unable to defend his Australian Open title earlier this year due to his vaccination status. The former world number 1 was expelled from the country at the end of a ten-day soap opera, which also caused serious damage to his image.
For the same reason, the Serbian phenomenon had to skip the US Open and all the American Masters 1000 (Indian Wells, Miami, Montreal and Cincinnati). After his disappointment at Roland Garros, Nole turned his season around by winning Wimbledon and equaling his idol Pete Sampras with seven titles at Church Road.
The 35-year-old from Belgrade has thus hoisted himself to 21 Grand Slams, just one length away from Rafael Nadal's record. The Spaniard won the Australian Open and Roland Garros this year, proving for the umpteenth time that he is a living legend.
A few days ago, the news arrived that Djokovic will be able to compete in the Australian Open 2023. Mats Wilander commented on this news to Eurosport's microphones.
Wilander speaks about Djokovic
“It’s obviously really important for him [Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open inclusion],” the tennis analyst told Eurosport.
“We had to guess last time he wasn’t allowed in Australia. He must have been heartbroken. We have no idea how he felt because he was very good at hiding it. For the game, this is most probably the most single important piece of news since Covid-19 hit the first time, because we were stuck in this race between the biggest, greatest three players of all time on the men’s side, with three different contrasting styles coming up at different times.
Roger pushing the envelope, Nadal pushing Roger and then Novak coming to kind of ‘spoil the party’. If Novak had not been allowed [to play unvaccinated], the history of our game would have become completely irrelevant.
The numbers of Grand Slams would have become completely irrelevant if Novak wasn’t able to play anymore. For most people I say that we really would like to know who we can label No 1 of all time. So I think it’s really important for the press and the space that we get in the media as a professional sport, I think is enhanced massively by having that race come back and being alive again”.
McCarvel feels that the nine-time Australian Open champion will be an overwhelming favorite against any player on tour over five sets in 2023, including Nadal. "I think Djokovic still stands alone at the top of the mountain when it comes to best-of-5," stated McCarvel on a recent episode of 'Courtside: The US Open Podcast.'