Rafael Nadal supporters have jokingly hailed Australia’s immigration minister, Alex Hawke, for preventing Novak Djokovic from competing in the Australian Open in 2022. They wore T-shirts to thank the minister during the ongoing Italian Open. Due to his lack of vaccination, Novak Djokovic was at the center of the Covid-19 storm ahead of the Australian Open. He was even forced to skip the year’s first Grand Slam and a few tournaments after that.
The Serb is back in action, but flashbacks of the drama that happened in Melbourne after Djokovic’s visa was revoked came flooding back in Rome. This was attributed to T-shirts featuring a photo of Hawke during the Italian Open. The people wearing the T-shirts, interestingly, were not followers of Novak Djokovic, but of his arch-rival Rafael Nadal. The messages on the shirts are as follows: “Gracias King (thank you King)” and “Melbourne ’22.” They were apparently attempting to thank Alex Hawke for helping Nadal win the tournament in Djokovic’s absence.
Rafael Nadal faced a shocking exit in the Italian Open 2022
Rafael Nadal, the defending champion, was knocked out of the Italian Open in the third round, complaining of a reoccurring foot ailment after a stunning 1-6, 7-5, 6-2 defeat to Denis Shapovalov of Canada. Defeat in Rome for “King of Clay” Nadal casts doubt over his prospects at the upcoming French Open, where he has been crowned champion 13 times, but faces a threat from teenage phenomenon Carlos Alcaraz.
The 35-year-old had been out for six weeks with a rib ailment before returning for last week’s competition in Madrid. He had reached the quarter-finals in Rome every year since 2008. In the third set, Nadal began limping and subsequently told reporters that a foot ailment had flared up during the second set, but he couldn’t say whether he would be able to compete at Roland Garros.
“I’m not injured, I am a player living with an injury. That’s it,” Rafael Nadal told reporters. “It’s something that is there unfortunately and my day by day is difficult. I am trying hard but of course, it is difficult for me. A lot of days I can’t practice. I don’t want to take anything away from Denis … today is for him so well done to him,” he added.