Pierre-Hugues Herbert: Novak Djokovic not outlaw but treated like fugitive

France’s Pierre-Hugues Herbert believes Novak Djokovic deserved a much better treatment in Australia as a record nine-time Australian Open champion and a world No. 1. 

“It’s a saga. Everything has taken on disproportionate proportions for two years, we asked a lot of things of the Australians,” Herbert told Franceinfo, as quoted on Sportskeeda. “It is a situation which is extremely special. For Australians, it is difficult to accept that an unvaccinated person can enter the country, when they have been practically locked up on their island for two years. That’s why I never considered going there.”

Djokovic’s visa was cancelled upon his arrival but he appealed the decision and on Monday the judge reinstated his visa. 

“We are walking on our heads, because the world number 1 in tennis cannot play the Grand Slam in Australia, where he has won nine times,” he said. “He’s been locked in a hotel room for three days, he’s been blocked at customs for seven hours, he’s been treated like a fugitive when he’s not supposed to be an outlaw.”

Herbert set to miss the Australian Open

Herbert became the first player to withdraw from the Australian due to their vaccine mandate.

Also, Herbert admitted he could be forced to end his career if vaccination becomes mandatory for the majority of events.

“I don’t know what my future is all about, but what is certain is that it is not bright,” Herbert said. “Considering the evolution of things in all countries, government decisions, it seems complicated for me to continue to be a tennis player if I am not vaccinated. Still, I would like to keep fighting to try to be. In the very near future, I might be able to play. But in the long run, it could be complicated.

“I don’t hope (to end tennis career), but it’s a possibility. I’ll do anything to make sure that isn’t the end result, but it’s a possibility.”