Djokovic’s legacy at risk, Nadal flips the GOAT script – Match Points # 37

In his interview with the BBC Novak Djokovic says he will not get vaccinated. Today on Match Points #37 our esteemed panel discusses Djokovic’s decision and possible ramifications.

February 20, 2022
The figures

Novak Djokovic has given his first public interview since being deported from Australia, and in it the world No 1 confirmed his intention to not take the coronavirus vaccine. Djokovic told the BBC that he is willing to risk missing Roland-Garros and Wimbledon this summer, because he feels his personal freedom is more important.

In Match Points #37, Marion Bartoli, Carole Bouchard and Simon Cambers discuss the implications of Djokovic’s decision, wondering what is motivating him to risk his legacy and whether or not he will change his mind in the coming months.

The panel of the last episode of Match Points combs over the issues with host Josh Cohen, discussing whether or not Djokovic may be helped by a loosening of coronavirus restrictions across Europe this spring as the omicron variant begins to abate and temperatures begin to warm.

After asking the question “Who deserves the most blame for what happened to Djokovic in Australia?” the conversation moves forward to other topics, such as Nadal’s stirring comeback in the 2022 Australian Open final, which players have taken the biggest step forwards and backwards thus far in 2022.

©Sydney Low/Cal Sport Media/Sip

Key moments in Match Points

  • 1’25: Carole Bouchard looks at the BBC interview with a glass half-full approach. She’s hopeful that Djokovic is keeping an open mind and thinks that there is a chance he will eventually get vaccinated. But she adds that Djokovic is “picking the wrong hill to die on.”
  • 2’55: Simon Cambers does not believe that Djokovic will get vaccinated, and points out that 99 of the ATP’s top-100 are already vaccinated. Cambers believes that restrictions will ease in Europe this spring and that Djokovic will likely be permitted to play without being vaccinated.
  • 5’30: Marion Bartoli was surprised by the BBC interview, because she was expecting that Djokovic would be vaccinated. She goes on to wonder how well the world No 1 will be able to play next week in Dubai, given that he has not played in three months, and been through a lot of chaos during that time.
  • 7’20: Cambers points out that even though Djokovic claims that he is not anti-vax, his name is still being used by the anti-vax community. “It’s a horrible balancing act, in many ways,” says Cambers. “It’s one thing to say that he’s not anti-vax, but he doesn’t say ‘I believe in vaccines.'”
  • 10’15: Changing tunes, the panel debates who was the guilty party for the Djokovic saga in Melbourne in January. Marion Bartoli leads off and says that the Australian government deserves the blame, due to the fact that they determined that Djokovic was a risk to the population. “That’s where I was really getting confused and quite mad, actually,” Bartoli said.
  • 12’20: Bouchard agrees, saying that the brunt of the blame rests with the Australian government. “In the end you have deported someone for an idea that he hasn’t even put out in the open, right now you have hundreds of people in Australia resisting the vaccine and Novak Djokovic isn’t there anymore – I’m still absolutely shocked at the way they’ve treated him.”
  • 17’50: Switching topics to the ATP Tour after the 2022 Australian Open, Bartoli expresses wonder about the self-belief of Rafael Nadal and points out that he has moved up in the men’s tennis GOAT race . “He’s a true inspiration for so many generations and he’s an incredible human being as well. For me, if he goes on to win No 22 at Roland-Garros that will definitely put him on the top of the list for sure, then it’s all about Novak, how much more he can win.”
  • 19’50: Simon Cambers talks about how the GOAT race has chanced based on what happened in the Australian Open final, with Nadal coming back from two sets to love down. “It give him enormous momentum, heading into Paris, and it gives him also the ability to relax a little bit. He doesn’t have to chase form like he has done over the last few years.”
  • 21’30: Bouchard says Nadal’s victory changes the narrative around him. She believes it will keep him fuel to play a longer career.
  • 25’30: Josh Cohen asks the trio if the men’s final in Australia was more of a comeback or a collapse? Everybody agrees that Nadal went and took the final.
  • 26’40: Bartoli talks about how difficult it must have been for Medvedev to try and stay in there against a player like Nadal, who has made the best of this generation doubt themselves.
  • 27’30: Simon Cambers responds to Josh’s question about which players have made the biggest strides in 2022 – he picks Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov.
  • 29’20: Bouchard says that Alexander has taken a big step back, based on his performance at the 2022 Australian Open. “Something still isn’t clicking,” she says of the German. Bouchard picks Medvedev as the player who has taken a step forward, due to the fact that he’s the only one of his generation pushing the Big 3 and reaching major final.
  • 31’00: Marion Bartoli picks Gael Monfils as her surging ATP player. “At this stage of his career, where he’s at, it was a big step forward for him,” Bartoli says. The Frenchwoman says that Zverev has taken the biggest step back, agreeing with Bouchard.
  • 32’00: Final question of Match Points on the men- which player is closest to winning their first major – Berrettini, Shapovalov or Auger-Aliassime?
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