RAFAEL Nadal expressed sympathy for rival Novak Djokovic after the Serb was denied entry into Australia because he wasn’t vaccinated against COVID-19.

However, he said that Djokovic had made the decision knowing the risk of being turned away.

“Of course I don’t like the situation that is happening,” Nadal said after winning his match at the Melbourne Summer Set ATP 250 tournament on Thursday. “In some way I feel sorry for him.

 “But at the same time, he knew the conditions since a lot of months ago, so he makes his own decision.”

Djokovic, 34, was detained by officials at the border on Thursday amid outcry over the decision to grant him a medical exemption from vaccination requirements in order to play in the Australian Open.

The world number one is currently holed up in a quarantine hotel in Melbourne as his lawyers contest the federal government’s entry ban.

Nadal tested positive for COVID-19 last month after playing at an exhibition match in Abu Dhabi, which was attended by former king of Spain, Juan Carlos.

Nadal said he understood why there was anger over the issue of not being vaccinated and insisted that medical advice should be followed.

“Seems some rough situation,” Nadal said. “It’s normal that the people here in Australia get very frustrated with the case because they have been going through a lot of very hard lockdowns…

“I believe in what the people who knows about medicine say, and if the people say that we need to get vaccinated, we need to get the vaccine,” he said.

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