The 34-year-old, a vaccine skeptic, sparked widespread outrage in Australia when he announced he was heading to Melbourne with a medical exemption from requirements to vaccinate visitors against COVID-19.
The Australian Border Force said his exemption was invalid and that he was being held in an immigration detention hotel, but the court later allowed him to stay on the grounds that officials were “unreasonable” to meet him in a seven-hour midnight operation.
“Certainly, he was playing by his own rules and was doing what not many players had the courage to do, especially after the ATP announced certain criteria for players to enter the country,” Greek Tsitsipas told India’s WION news channel.
“No one really thought they could come to Australia without getting vaccinated and not have to follow protocols… It takes a lot of guts to do and put a Grand Slam at risk, which I don’t think many players will do.”
The ATP, which governs men’s tennis, said 97 of the top 100 players have been vaccinated. American world number 93 Tennys Sandgren told reporters earlier this month that he withdrew from the Australian Open due to a vaccine mandate and that he chose not to apply for a medical exemption.
Asked if Djokovic should defend his title at Melbourne Park next week as the visa saga continues, Tsitsipas said: “There are two ways to look at it. One aspect is that almost every player has been fully vaccinated … and followed the protocols to play in Australia.
“On the other hand, it seems that not everyone is playing by the rules…A very small majority have chosen to go their own way, making the majority look like fools.”