Sir Andy Murray has branded the Novak Djokovic deportation omnishambles “really bad” and “not good for tennis at all”.
Murray, among the most publicly pro-Covid vaccine players in the sport, said the whole sorry saga was not good for “anyone involved”. A long-time friend and rival of the vaccine sceptic Djokovic, Murray said he had yet to speak to his fellow 34-year-old, who was on Sunday still being detained in an immigration hotel in Melbourne after being refused entry to Australia.
A court hearing is scheduled to begin at 11pm UK time on Sunday to determine whether Djokovic would be deported.
The Serb had attempted to enter Australia last week using a medical exemption from having to be vaccinated to defend his Australian Open crown, granted after he submitted evidence of having recorded a positive test on December 16.
The emergence of that date raised questions after he made several public appearances in his native Serbia during the period in which strict quarantine rules may have applied.
Murray, beaten four times by Djokovic in the final of the Australian Open and, said of the whole saga: “I think everyone is shocked by it to be honest.
“I’m going to say two things on it just now. The first thing is that I hope that Novak is okay. I know him well, and I’ve always had a good relationship with him and I hope that he’s okay.
“The second thing I’ll say on it… it’s really not good for tennis at all, and I don’t think it’s good for anyone involved.
“I think it’s really bad.”
Murray, whose brother Jamie last week questioned the decision to grant the Serb a medical exemption, added: “What I would like to do right now is just wait for all of the facts to come out about what’s happened, because every day something new is coming out and we’re hearing new information all of the time.
“Some stuff has come out that really doesn’t look good, either. I want to hear all the facts first before giving all of my thoughts on it.”
Murray and Djokovic were born just seven days apart and attended the same training camp as teenagers.
The Scot’s first two grand slam titles, at the US Open in 2012 and Wimbledon in 2013, both came courtesy of victories against the Serb.
“I haven’t spoken to him,” Murray said. “But I know the ATP have tried to be in communication and contact with him.”
Boris Becker, who coached Djokovic to six of his 20 grand slam titles, told BILD his former protégé was “not an idiot” for flying to Australia unvaccinated.