The decision not to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, like Novak Djokovic, forced one of the best doubles players on the planet, Pierre-Hugues Herbert, to miss the Australian Open, and he will have to avoid other big tournaments outside France.
However, he no longer cares about it, no matter how hard it was for him not to be on the biggest tennis stage so far this season. "I don't know if it's a (return to competitions in France) relief ... In fact, when something is taken away from you, then you realize how lucky you are to be able to do some things."
"And I think that today many people in the world who have been deprived of certain freedoms for valid reasons, understand certain things. The first time we have the right to do these things again, we realize how happy we are.
" Herbert said after the triumph over Mikhail Kukushkin in the first round of the tournament in Marseille. "I am happy to be able to play in my fourth tournament this season, knowing that at the end of last year and the beginning of the year, when I watched the Australian Open on television, I honestly wondered if I would be able to play tennis again in 2022."
"I kept training when it was all foggy. I had a feeling I was being slapped almost every week. I try to enjoy every moment. I realize how happy I am to be doing this job."
The four-time Grand Slam champion in doubles competition intended to travel to the USA after the Australian Open, but ...
"I could not go there, because there is no possible exception if you recently had COVID(he tested positive in early January, which allows him to play in France without vaccination). I asked this question to ATP."
"They are in contact with the American Olympic Committee. "Since the end of last year, they have given two or three negative answers." "I crossed out those tournaments (in the USA). I think I will play on the challengers in March.
And then comes the clay season. So I try to make the most of when I can play." "I don't know if there will be positive or negative decisions next week.We are happy to live in a country where we are free.For me this is more important than anything.This freedom is more important than being professional tennis player.
" Herbert monitors daily information about vaccination passes that can have a direct impact on his career ... "I definitely follow everything, but I make sure it doesn't affect me ... In fact, to be completely honest, I somehow moved to the other side, I'm relaxed."
"If they tell me today that I can't play, it doesn't matter, I won't play. I have accepted my situation and I enjoy every moment. "