|Dates: 17-30 January Venue: Melbourne Park|
|Coverage: Daily radio commentaries on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC Sport website and app, with selected live text commentaries online; TV highlights from middle Saturday.|
Rafael Nadal says the Australian Open will be “great with or without” Novak Djokovic as the world number one’s visa drama remains unresolved.
But the 35-year-old Spaniard said he is getting “tired” of the Serb’s situation dominating the tournament build-up.
“There is no player in history who’s more important than an event,” he said.
Djokovic, 34, faces deportation after his visa was cancelled for a second time and will appeal against the decision in a hearing on Sunday.
The top seed is still scheduled to play at the Australian Open on Monday.
Djokovic has been detained in Melbourne before Sunday’s court hearing, which takes place at 09:30 local time (22:30 GMT on Saturday).
The Australian government has described Djokovic as a threat to public health, with his lawyers appealing against what they called an “irrational” judgement.
“From my point of view there are a lot of questions that need to be answered,” said Nadal, who is seeded sixth.
“I think it will be good if everything clarifies soon. Everyone chooses his road. I respect Novak as a person, of course, and as an athlete, without a doubt.
“I really respect him, even if I do not agree with a lot of things that he did the last couple of weeks.”
‘Not as big a drama if it wasn’t Djokovic’
Djokovic is a record nine-time men’s champion at Melbourne Park and another victory there this year would be his 21st Grand Slam title.
He is tied on 20 major wins with Nadal and Switzerland’s Roger Federer, who is not playing in Australia because of injury.
German third seed Alexander Zverev, one of the players whose chances of winning would be boosted by Djokovic’s absence, said he thought the visa row would “not be as big of a drama” if it did not involve the world number one.
“Everything else I cannot comment on because I’m not a politician,” said Zverev, who is good friends with Djokovic.
“I understand the perspective from the Australian people and the government. The Australian government and the Victorian government should have been clear on what is going to happen beforehand.
“It’s not very fair for a person to come here and not be able to play.”
Zverev said the row should not lead to people questioning Djokovic’s legacy, but Japan’s Naomi Osaka – the defending women’s champion – said: “He’s such a great player and it’s kind of sad that some people might remember in this way.
“But I also think it’s up to not tennis players. It’s up to the government how Australia is deciding to handle it.”
Greek world number four Stefanos Tsitsipas, who said this week that Djokovic has made vaccinated tennis players “look like fools”, refused to discuss the matter again in his pre-tournament news conference on Saturday.
“I’m here to talk about tennis, not Novak Djokovic. We may proceed please,” he said.
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