A bunch of cheeky tennis fans have inadvertently mocked both Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal at the Italian Open over the World No.1’s deportation with a T-shirt featuring Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke.
Djokovic marched on in Rome after defeating Stan Wawrinka in straight sets to reach his 16th quarter-final at the Italian Open.
Unfortunately, Nadal’s foot problem hampered him as he was unable to compete in the third set against Denis Shapovalov and was knocked out.
While there was plenty of drama on the court, some fans caught the attention of the tennis world with a rather cheeky set of T-shirts that appeared to take a dig at Djokovic’s early season drama.
Three fans were photographed wearing a T-shirt wit Australian Immigration Minister Hawke on the front.
The photo was captioned: “Melbourne 22, Gracias King.”
The fans were referring to Djokovic’s deportation from Australia after having his visa revoked.
Djokovic entered Australia unvaccinated and after a 10 day legal battle, that made worldwide headlines, the nine-time Aus Open champion was deported.
Fans have debated whether the image was accidentally trolling Nadal for Djokovic’s exclusion at the Australian Open.
Many Djokovic fans at the time suggested Nadal wouldn’t have won the tournament – Djokovic’s most lucrative grand slam – if the World No.1 had played.
While others concluded they were simply trolling Djokovic for his exclusion from the event.
Novak Djokovic loses sponsor partnership
The fallout from Djokovic’s Australian Open saga has continued.
While he will be allowed to play Roland Garros and Wimbledon, a number of sponsors have appeared to cut ties with the World No.1 in 2022.
According to Sportico, UKG has ended its three-year partnership with the World No.1.
The technology firm partnered up with Djokovic in early 2019 when it was known as Ultimate Software, before the business merged with Kronos.
The partnership was reportedly part of a push into the tennis world that also included sponsoring the Miami Open.
UKG was one of Djokovic’s patch partners on the sleeve of his Lacoste shirts, along with Peugeot.
In March, Peugeot also severed ties with the 20-time grand slam champion.
Patch partnerships are said to be among the most lucrative for tennis players, and can be worth as much as $10 million.
It has been reported that Djokovic’s sponsorships and endorsements total around $42 million per year.