The 34-year-old, a vaccine skeptic, caused widespread anger in Australia when he announced he was on his way to Melbourne with a medical waiver from the requirements for visitors to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Australian Border Force said his waiver was invalid and he was being held in an immigration detention hotel, but a court later allowed him to stay on the grounds that officials had been “unreasonable” during his interview in a seven-hour trial in the middle of the night.
“He certainly plays by his own rules and has done what not many players had the guts to do, especially after the ATP announced certain criteria for players to enter the country,” Greece’s Tsitsipas told Indian news channel WION.
“Nobody really thought they could come to Australia unvaccinated and not have to follow protocols… it takes a lot of guts to do and jeopardize the Grand Slam, which I don’t think many players would do.”
The ATP, which regulates men’s tennis, has said that 97 of the top 100 male players have been vaccinated. US No. 93 in the world, Tennys Sandgren, told reporters earlier this month that he had withdrawn from the Australian Open over the vaccine mandate and chose not to apply for a medical waiver.
When asked if Djokovic should defend his title at Melbourne Park next week as his visa saga continues, Tsitsipas said: “There are two ways of looking at it. One side of it is that almost every player is fully vaccinated… the protocols to play in Australia.
“On the other hand, it seems that not everyone follows the rules… a very small majority chose to go their own way, making the majority look like fools.”