'Stay strong, buddy:' Sandgren to Djokovic

Djokovic was granted the exemption following a review by two independent medical panels prior to boarding his flight, but upon landing in Melbourne for this month's Australian Open, he was denied entry.

The Serbian, who is chasing a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title, is currently holed up in a Melbourne hotel for immigration detainees after his lawyers launched an appeal, which is expected to be heard on Monday.

"Novak, stay strong, buddy," Sandgren told Reuters.

"Hope you get out of there soon."

Djokovic's parents and the Serbian government have blasted the 20-time Grand Slam champion's treatment, with his mother saying he is a "prisoner."

Djokovic has consistently refused to disclose his vaccination status while publicly criticizing vaccine mandates.

Sandgren questioned whether Djokovic had been singled out.

"Other players who received the same medical exemptions that he did, were they scrutinized and met with the same almost hostility upon arrival?" he said.

"It seemed like it was very specific to him and his name because he is a high-profile guy and the number one player in the world, and his stance on vaccinations has been fairly open in regards to not being vaccinated."

Sandgren, who has twice reached the Australian Open quarter-finals, said he is not competing there this year because he is unvaccinated and does not meet the criteria for a medical exemption.

The American said he is not opposed to the vaccine itself but is against anyone being forced to take it.

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