Monday, January 17, 2022

Tennis icon Stich criticizes Djokovic "No player is greater than the sport itself"

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There is currently only one topic in world tennis: Novak Djokovic’s appearance before the Australian Open. Hardly anyone talks about the other players. That annoys ex-Wimbledon champion Michael Stich.

Is Novak Djokovic playing or not? That’s the big question ahead of the Australian Open. Even after a good week, the posse about the participation of the world number one in the first Grand Slam tournament of the year is not over (Read the whole chronology of the “Djokovic case” again here).

Four days before the start of the tournament, the Serb is still in Melbourne, is preparing for his controversial start at the Australian Open and was already drawn to his opening opponent. But there is still a big question mark over the start of the current number one in the world.

The huge vortex continues and the first Grand Slam tournament in 2022 is already overshadowed by the political issue. On Thursday, the government Down Under once again postponed the decision to revoke the 34-year-old Serb’s residence permit. And while the threat of expulsion from Australia continues, the lack of understanding in the tennis scene is getting louder.

In addition to numerous active professionals, the German tennis icon Michael Stich is now also speaking up. The 1991 Wimbledon winner is bothered by the fact that almost only Djokovic is discussed in public and most of the other players hardly exist in the media before the start of the Australian Open. “That’s the big mistake: the world doesn’t talk about tennis, it talks about Novak Djokovic. These are two completely different pairs of shoes,” said the 53-year-old to “Spiegel”.

In this context, Stich expressed “a lack of understanding for Djokovic’s actions, but also a lack of understanding for how those responsible act”. By that he means the organizer Tennis Australia, the Australian state of Victoria, the Australian federal authorities and the players’ union ATP. “Basically a lack of understanding about the actions of all those involved,” specified Stich. There are so many “contradictory things” that one cannot avoid “interpreting instead of basing oneself on facts.”

He specifically mentioned the entry requirements for the tournament in Australia. “The rules about who can and can’t participate were obviously not clear enough. Had there been very clear rules that only vaccinated players were allowed to participate, the whole debate would not have been had,” said Stich and added: “And if so once there were clear rules like the December 10th deadline, by which everyone had to report their requests for exception, then they were watered down. ” In the meantime, the story is so politicized that “respect for all the other professionals” is being lost.

“Sometimes I have the feeling that today’s generation is so keen on records that you have to be careful not to forget that no player is greater than the sport itself,” continued Stich. He also found it difficult to believe the Serb’s statements in connection with his corona-related entry problems.

“Of course it’s possible for an employee to make the wrong choice. But especially now, in times of Corona, something like that shouldn’t happen. The statement that he had no symptoms and attended the interview appointment in order not to disappoint the journalist, To be honest, I don’t think it’s credible – and Djokovic’s person isn’t corresponding either,” explained Stich.

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