In a recent interview with RTVE, Boris Becker called Novak Djokovic the “clear favorite” to win the Laureus Sportsperson of the Year award this year for his “incredible” 2021 tennis season. Despite mentioning that the Serb spent some “unfortunate” time in Australia over his vaccine saga, the German believes that will not be an issue since he won “three of the four Grand Slams.”
“Novak had an incredible 2021, winning three of the four Grand Slams, he came very close to completing the Grand Slam at the US Open but lost to Daniil Medvedev. For this reason, I think he starts out as one of the clear favorites to win the Laureus Award for the best athlete of the year, although we all remember how unfortunate his time in Australia was a few weeks ago, “said Becker.
Novak Djokovic had one of his best seasons in 2021, winning three Grand Slams and one Masters title. Despite missing out on a medal at the Tokyo Olympics, the Serb finished with a win-loss record of 27-1 at the Slams and managed to end the year as the World No. 1 on a record seventh occasion, surpassing his idol Pete Sampras.
However, Djokovic’s image came into question when he was found to be unvaccinated against COVID-19, something that barred him from defending his title at the 2022 Australian Open.
Backing Djokovic, his former coach Becker stated that such a thing is “not relevant” when it comes to deciding the winner of the Laureus award. He further stressed that taking the COVID-19 vaccine is a “private choice” and that one should only consider the Serb’s “performance on the tennis court” while evaluating him for the award.
“However, this should not be relevant, since what matters here is what you do on the track and not what happens off it. Whether or not to get vaccinated is a private choice, what we should reflect on is his performance on the tennis court , as 2021 was really impressive, “added the former World No. 1.
Becker coached Djokovic to six Grand Slam titles before the two parted ways in December 2016.
Boris Becker claims there are “no winners” in Novak Djokovic’s vaccine controversy in Australia
In the same interview, Becker revealed that there are “no winners” in Djokovic’s vaccine saga in Australia. Despite advocating for vaccination, the German emphasized that if one is not vaccinated, it should not be a “reason to persecute” them. He also pointed out that it’s a “choice” whether to get inoculated or not.
Blaming the Australian authorities for “no clear communication,” Becker even hinted that the whole controversy could have been avoided if the authorities had told Djokovic in the first place that he “could not travel or compete” at the Melbourne Slam if he was unvaccinated .
“There are no winners in all of this, it was an awkward situation for everyone where Novak was the one who lost the most. The world would be a better place if we were all vaccinated, that’s for sure, but in the end, your life is your body, it’s your choice. I, being older, am going to get vaccinated, but for people who are younger and decide not to do it, it is not a reason to persecute them and tell them that they are worse people, “Becker said.
“In Australia, there was no clear communication between the institutions and also not online with Novak Djokovic. The issue was not whether you get vaccinated or not, the rule is the same for everyone, but the tournament was who had to tell the player that he could not travel, that he could not compete, “concluded the 54-year-old.
Novak Djokovic is currently playing at the Dubai Tennis Championships, a tournament he has won five times in the past.
Also read: “There is consequences to the decisions Novak Djokovic has made just now, he obviously has to accept that” – Andy Murray