Novak Djokovic has reiterated his earlier comments that he bears no hard feelings on his return to Australia after his visa cancellation and subsequent deportation in January ahead of the Australian Open tennis tournament. Djokovic was deported almost 12 months ago after arriving unvaccinated against COVID-19 at a time when the country was still subject to strict quarantine regulations and proof of vaccination. Those regulations have since been lifted and in November, the Australian government overturned the three-year ban that came with Djokovic’s deportation and granted him a visa to return for the Australian Open beginning Jan. 16. Djokovic arrived back in Australia on Tuesday ahead of the Adelaide International, where he is scheduled to play next week. Read more: Djokovic expected to be granted visa to compete in Australian Open “It’s great to be back in Australia,” he said Thursday. “It’s a country where I’ve had tremendous success in my career, particularly in Melbourne. It’s by far my most successful Grand Slam. I’m hoping that everything is going to be positive. Obviously (fan reaction) is not something that I can predict. “I’ll do my best to play good tennis and bring good emotions and good feelings to the crowd.” Djokovic said he still has difficulty forgetting his deportation. “Obviously what happened 12 months ago was not easy for me, for my family, team, anybody who is close to me. It’s obviously disappointing to leave the country like that,” he said. Read more: Double-fault: Visa revoked again, Djokovic faces deportation “You can’t forget those events. It’s one of these things that stays with you for I guess the rest of your life. It’s something that I’ve never experienced before and hopefully never again. But it is a valuable life experience for me and something that as I said will stay there, but I have to move on.” Djokovic has won the Australian Open a record nine times, including the last three times he played. Rafael Nadal won the 2022 title in Djokovic’s absence.
Novak Djokovic claimed a record-equaling sixth ATP Finals title by beating the third-seeded Casper Ruud on Sunday to top a fantastic finish to the season for the Serb. Djokovic won 7-5, 6-3 to secure his first title at the event since 2015 and match Roger Federer’s record. The 35-year-old Djokovic, who had lost his two previous finals at the event, raised his arms out and smiled broadly after sealing the match with an ace. “Seven years has been a long time,” Djokovic said. "At the same time, the fact that I waited seven years makes this victory even sweeter and even bigger. Read more: Djokovic expected to be granted visa to compete in Australian Open “A lot of nerves ... I missed a couple of forehands in the last game when I was serving for it. I had nerves, but I am really grateful to be able to serve the match out. I had a big ace to close out." Djokovic became the oldest champion at the prestigious year-end tournament and also earned the largest payday in tennis history as he walked away with $4.7 million for claiming the ATP Finals trophy undefeated. "I made him run, made him play," Djokovic said. "I was looking to be very aggressive and it worked great. I am really pleased with the performance.” It was Ruud’s fourth defeat in a major championship match this year after also losing finals at Miami, Roland Garros and the U.S. Open. Ruud has never won a set against Djokovic in four meetings. “In the end it’s been disappointing to end up losing these big finals,” Ruud said. “Overall, if you gave me an offer to end the year at No. 3, play the finals that I’ve played, at the 1st of January this year I would probably sign the contract right away. No doubt about it. Read more: Djokovic 2 sets down, rallies for 26th straight at Wimbledon “It gives me motivation and a hunger to maybe next time — if I ever get to another final like this — I hope I can learn from what I have done this year and not been able to do and see how it goes.” Djokovic started strongly in Turin and had two break points in Ruud’s very first service game. The Norwegian managed to recover although he was also forced to save another break point in the eighth game. Djokovic finally broke Ruud’s serve at the fourth time of asking. And it was at a crucial moment, on set point, and he ecstatically pumped his fist in the air after Ruud sent a backhand long. The seventh-seeded Djokovic broke again in the fourth game of the second set and there was no way back for Ruud. Djokovic has ended the year with an 18-1 record after winning trophies in Tel Aviv and Astana before reaching the Paris Masters final. His five titles this season also include triumphs at Wimbledon and in Rome. And his coach, former second-ranked Goran Ivanisevic, had a stark warning for Djokovic's rivals. “He’s practicing even harder than when he was 22," Ivanisevic said. "That’s why he’s still so good and that’s why he’s still going to be even better.”
Novak Djokovic is set to be granted a visa to play in next year’s Australian Open despite his high-profile deportation in January. The Australian Broadcasting Corp. on Tuesday said it had confirmed newspaper reports that the immigration minister had overturned a potential three-year exclusion period for Djokovic. The Australian Border Force has previously said an exclusion period could be waived in certain circumstances — and that each case would be assessed on its merits. Read more: Paris Masters: Djokovic denied by unseeded Danish teenager Rune Immigration Minister Andrew Giles' office declined comment on privacy grounds, meaning any announcement on Djokovic’s visa status would have to come from the 35-year-old Serbian tennis star. The 21-time Grand Slam singles champion wasn’t allowed to defend his Australian Open title this year after a tumultuous 10-day legal saga over his COVID-19 vaccination status that culminated with his visa being revoked on the eve of the tournament. Djokovic arrived at Melbourne Airport as the world’s top-ranked tennis player with a visa he’d obtained online and what he believed to be a valid medical exemption to the country’s strict laws for unvaccinated travelers because it was endorsed by Tennis Australia and the government of Victoria state, which hosts the tournament. Confusion reigned, generating global headlines. As it transpired, that medical exemption allowed him entry to the tournament, which required all players, fans and officials to be vaccinated for the coronavirus, but not necessarily to enter the country. It was rejected by the Australian Border Force. Read more: Djokovic 2 sets down, rallies for 26th straight at Wimbledon Alex Hawke, Australia’s immigration minister at the time, used discretionary powers to cancel Djokovic’s visa on character grounds, stating he was a “talisman of a community of anti-vaccine sentiment.” Australia has had a change of government and changed its border rules this year and, since July 6, incoming travelers no longer have to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccinations. That removed the major barrier to entry for Djokovic. It allowed him to apply to new Immigration Minister Andrew Giles to reconsider his visa status. In his favor, Djokovic left Australia quickly after his visa was revoked and has not publicly criticized Australian authorities. As the Department of Home Affairs website explains, applicants in Djokovic’s circumstances must explain in writing to Australia's border authorities why the exclusion period should be put aside — “you must show us that there are compassionate or compelling circumstances to put aside your re-entry ban and grant you the visa.” Djokovic indicated Monday at the ATP Finals in Italy that his lawyers were communicating with the Australian government with a view to him contesting the Jan. 16-29 Australian Open.
It says a lot about Novak Djokovic that a two-sets-to-none hole at Wimbledon on a day he was hardly at his best never seemed insurmountable. A lot about his history of overcoming that sort of deficit. A lot about his ability to adjust, adapt and to right himself quickly. A lot about his preeminence at the All England Club in recent years. A lot about what might happen if — or, rather, when — he got back into the match and it eventually went to a fifth set. Djokovic spotted 10th-seeded Jannik Sinner of Italy the huge lead Tuesday, then worked his way back to win 5-7, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 at Centre Court, earning an 11th semifinal berth at Wimbledon with his 26th consecutive victory at the grass-court Grand Slam tournament. “I always believed,” Djokovic said, “that I could turn the match around.” Among men, only Roger Federer has made more semifinal appearances at Wimbledon with 13 and more championships (eight) than the seven Djokovic could reach by lifting the trophy Sunday for what would be a fourth year in a row. Djokovic managed his seventh career comeback in a match in which he trailed by two sets — he last did it in the 2021 French Open final against Stefanos Tsitsipas — and improved to 37-10 in five-setters. That includes a 10-1 mark in matches that go the distance at Wimbledon, including nine straight victories; the lone loss came in 2006. Also Read: Wimbledon wild-card entry steals set, not win, from Djokovic In the semifinals Friday, the top-seeded 35-year-old Serbian will meet either No. 9 Cameron Norrie of Britain or unseeded David Goffin of Belgium. The men’s quarterfinals Wednesday: No. 2 Rafael Nadal of Spain vs. No. 11 Taylor Fritz of the U.S., and Nick Kyrgios of Australia vs. Cristian Garin of Cile. The first player into the women’s semifinals was 103rd-ranked Tatjana Maria, who defeated Jule Niemeier 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 in an all-German matchup. Maria is 34, making her only the sixth woman at least that old to get this far at Wimbledon in the professional era, which began in 1968. The others? It’s quite a list: Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Serena Williams and Venus Williams. This is Maria’s 35th Grand Slam tournament; only once had she made it as far as the third round. She’ll take on No. 3 Ons Jabeur of Tunisia or Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic for a spot in Saturday’s final. The other women’s quarterfinals: 2019 champion Simona Halep of Romania vs. No. 20 Amanda Anisimova of the U.S., and No. 17 Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan vs. Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia. Of the women’s quarterfinalists, only Halep owns a major title (she has two). That sort of edge in experience certainly aided Djokovic, who is seeking his 21st Grand Slam trophy. Tuesday’s match brought Sinner’s major quarterfinal appearance total to three, which is exactly — checks notes — 50 fewer than Djokovic’s. Djokovic is 14-plus years older than Sinner, 20, which made for the third-largest age gap in a Wimbledon men’s quarterfinal. Sinner has shown enormous potential, reaching the quarterfinals at the 2020 French Open before losing to Nadal and the 2022 Australian Open before losing to Tsitsipas.
Even knowing what an unusual Wimbledon this has been, what with so many unexpected results and new faces popping up, and so few top seeds — and major champions — remaining, surely Novak Djokovic would not lose to a wild-card entry making his Grand Slam debut, would he? If it did not quite seem plausible, it did at least become vaguely possible a tad past 9:30 p.m. on Sunday night under the closed roof at Centre Court, when 25-year-old Dutchman Tim van Rijthoven — ranking: 104th; lifetime tour-level victories: eight, all in the past month — had the temerity to smack a 133 mph ace past Djokovic and tie their fourth-round match at a set apiece. All of nine minutes later, the time it took Djokovic to grab 12 of the next 15 points, and the next three games, both plausibility and possibility took a hike. Soon enough, the third set was his, and not much later, so was the fourth, and the match, a 6-2, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 result that gave the tournament's No. 1 seed a 25th consecutive grass-court victory at the All England Club and a place in his 13th Wimbledon quarterfinal. Read: Djokovic playing his ‘best’ tennis ahead of French Open “Novak did his Novak thing,” van Rijthoven said, “and played very, very well. He had all the answers.” Beforehand, van Rijthoven had said: “I’ll go into that match thinking I can win.” Might have still had that sense Sunday evening. If only briefly. Eventually, the only true question was whether Djokovic would wrap this one up in time, because there is an 11 p.m. curfew. Running up against that would have required them to resume Monday. “Whew. I am lucky,” Djokovic said after closing the deal with 20 minutes to spare. “It's never really pleasant if you can't finish the match in the same day. Glad I did.” They did not begin playing until 8 p.m., in part due to a delay of roughly an hour at the start of this special afternoon — the first time in history the tournament's middle Sunday held scheduled play — while a ceremony was held to honor the 100 years of Centre Court. Djokovic, who questioned after his victory why matches generally begin so late in the main stadium, was among the many past champions who took part, joking to the crowd when it was his turn to speak, “Gosh, I feel more nervous than when I’m playing.” If he was, indeed, jittery at all at a set apiece many hours later against van Rijthoven, it certainly did not show. Didn't matter that van Rijthoven kept cranking out huge serves, to the tune of 20 aces, including a pair on second serves. Didn't matter just how big the cuts were that van Rijthoven took with his forehands. Didn't matter that the spectators, who love an underdog, were getting louder and louder as the second set came to a close. Didn't matter that Djokovic stumbled behind what he called a "slippery" baseline twice, landing first on his backside, later on his left knee and stomach. “He was on a streak on this surface, and I knew that it wasn’t going to be easy. With that serve and a lot of talent, great touch, powerful forehand, he can do a lot of damage,” Djokovic said. “It took me a little bit of time to get used to his pace.” Djokovic, a 35-year-old from Serbia, calibrated his best-in-the-game returns, got his groundstrokes in fine form — finishing with just 19 unforced errors, compared to 29 winners — and was in complete control, a step closer to all manner of important numbers. His pursuit of a fourth consecutive, and seventh overall, title at Wimbledon, not to mention a 21st major championship, will continue Tuesday against No. 10 seed Jannik Sinner of Italy. Sinner reached his first quarterfinal at the All England Club by eliminating No. 5 Carlos Alcaraz 6-1, 6-4, 6-7 (8), 6-3 earlier. Read:Djokovic heads for Belgrade after deportation from Australia The other quarterfinal on their half of the bracket will be No. 9 Cam Norrie of Britain against unseeded David Goffin of Belgium. They each advanced by beating Americans: Norrie beat No. 30 Tommy Paul 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 to get to his first major quarterfinal, and Goffin edged No. 23 Frances Tiafoe 7-6 (3), 5-7, 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 over more than 4 1/2 hours. The rest of the fourth round is Monday, and the only men left in the field who ever have participated in a Grand Slam final are Djokovic and 22-time major champion Rafael Nadal. They are also the only men still around ranked in the top 10. It's a similarly unfamiliar collection of players chasing the women's championship, with just one who has appeared in a Grand Slam final (two-time major title winner Simona Halep, who plays Monday) and just two who were among the top 15 seeds at Wimbledon (No. 3 Ons Jabeur and No. 4 Paula Badosa, who plays Monday). Jabeur made it to the quarterfinals at the All England Club for the second year in a row with a 7-6 (9), 6-4 victory against No. 24 Elise Mertens of Belgium. The other women moving on Sunday are unseeded and in unfamiliar territory, never having been in any major quarterfinal. Jabeur next plays Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic, while Tatjana Maria, 34, and Jule Niemeier, 22, will meet in an all-German quarterfinal. Bouzkova topped Caroline Garcia 7-5, 6-2, Maria defeated 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 5-7, 7-5, 7-5 after erasing two match points, and Niemeier beat Heather Watson 6-2, 6-4. “There’s no reason ... not to keep this going," said Bouzkova, who pulled out of the French Open in May after testing positive for COVID-19 before her second-round match. "Kind of believing in myself right now.” There's been a lot of that going around at the grass-court Grand Slam tournament. Djokovic put an end to such thoughts for van Rijthoven.
Novak Djokovic is optimistic about his game going into the French Open despite going another week without a title. The top-ranked Djokovic is yet to win a trophy this season while trying to regain his best form after not being allowed to play in the Australian Open because he was not vaccinated for COVID-19. Also read: Djokovic heads for Belgrade after deportation from Australia Djokovic lost to young sensation Carlos Alcaraz in three sets in the semifinals of the Madrid Open on Saturday, when he was trying to make it to his second consecutive final after losing to Andrey Rublev in Serbia last month. Despite the loss, Djokovic said he leaves Madrid feeling good about his preparations for the upcoming French Open, where he will defend his title. “I definitely played very good tennis, I mean, the best that I have played this year,” Djokovic said. “Probably when the disappointment of losing this match passes, I will have a lot of positives to take away from this week.” Djokovic said he felt he could have come away with the victory against the 19-year-old Alcaraz — one the hottest players on tour this season — if he had been “able to capitalize when it mattered” during the match of more than 3 1/2 hours at the “Caja Mágica” center court. The Madrid Open was only his fourth tournament of the year, and third on clay. He lost to 29th-ranked Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in his first match in Monte Carlo in his only other Masters 1000 appearance so far. Djokovic did not play in Indian Wells and Miami. He will carry an 8-4 record on the season into Rome this week, with one of those victories coming after Andy Murray withdrew from their third-round match in Madrid because of a stomach illness. Also read: Double-fault: Visa revoked again, Djokovic faces deportation Djokovic had opened his campaign in the Spanish capital with a two-set win over Gael Monfils. He comfortably defeated Hubert Hurkacz in two sets in the quarterfinals. The 34-year-old Djokovic said after the match against Monfils it was “his best performance of the year” considering he hadn’t played well and lacked rhythm in the few tournaments he had played. Djokovic had reached the quarterfinals in the only other tournament he played this year, losing to 72nd-ranked Jiri Vesely in Dubai in February. The goal now is preparing to do well in Roland Garros, where he will try to win his third French Open. “I think it’s on the good path, definitely,” he said.
Novak Djokovic was heading home to Serbia on Monday after his deportation from Australia over its required COVID-19 vaccination ended the No. 1-ranked men's tennis player's hopes of defending his Australian Open title. An Emirates plane carrying him from Australia landed in Dubai early Monday, and Djokovic was later seen on board a plane due to land in the Serbian capital, Belgrade, at 12:10 CET. His lawyers had argued in an Australian court on Sunday that he should be allowed to stay in the country and compete in the tournament under a medical exemption due to a coronavirus infection last month. Djokovic has won nine Australian Open titles, including three in a row, and a total of 20 Grand Slam singles trophies, tied with rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the most in the history of men’s tennis. Federer is not playing while recovering from injury, and Nadal is the only former Australian Open men's champion in the tournament that began Monday. Also read: Djokovic arrives in Dubai after deportation from Australia Djokovic has overwhelming support in his native Serbia where his closest family lives. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has accused the Australian government of “harassing” the top-ranked tennis star and urged him to return where he would be welcomed. Djokovic had tested positive with coronavirus in Belgrade on Dec. 16, which he used as an argument to enter Australia, but his visa was initially canceled on Jan. 6 by a border official who decided he didn’t qualify for a medical exemption from Australia’s rules for unvaccinated visitors. He won an appeal to stay for the tournament, but Australia's immigration minister later revoked his visa. Three Federal Court judges decided unanimously Sunday to affirm the immigration minister’s right to cancel Djokovic’s visa. Vaccination amid the pandemic is a requirement for anyone at the Australian Open, whether players, their coaches or anyone at the tournament site. More than 95% of all Top 100 men and women in their tours’ respective rankings are vaccinated. At least two men — American Tennys Sandgren and Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert — skipped the first major tournament of the year due to the vaccine requirement. Djokovic's attempt to get the medical exemption for not being vaccinated sparked anger in Australia, where strict lockdowns in cities and curbs on international travel have been employed to try to control the spread of the coronavirus since the pandemic began. Djokovic tested positive in Belgrade on Dec. 16, but received the result late Dec. 17, he said, and scrapped all his commitments except a long-standing interview with L’Equipe newspaper the following day. He later described this “an error” of judgment. Asked if Djokovic would face any penalties for flouting his isolation while being infected when he returns to Serbia, Serbian officials said he would not because the country is not in a state of emergency. Also read: Tennis star Djokovic loses deportation appeal in Australia Djokovic has almost an iconic status in Serbia, whose President Aleksandar Vucic said the court hearing in Australia was “a farce with a lot of lies.” “They think that they humiliated Djokovic with this 10-day harassment, and they actually humiliated themselves. If you said that the one who was not vaccinated has no right to enter, Novak would not come or would be vaccinated,” Vucic told reporters.
Novak Djokovic arrived early Monday in Dubai after his deportation from Australia over its required COVID-19 vaccination ended the No. 1-ranked men's tennis player's hopes of defending his Australian Open title. The Emirates plane carrying Djokovic touched down after a 13 1/2-hour flight from Melbourne, where he had argued in court he should be allowed to stay in the country and compete in the tournament under a medical exemption due to a coronavirus infection last month. Read: Tennis star Djokovic loses deportation appeal in Australia Dubai International Airport was quiet early Monday morning as flights from the Australia and Asia began to arrive. Passengers wearing mandatory face masks collected their bags and walked out of the cavernous terminal. The first Muslim call to prayers before the sunrise echoed over the terminal. It wasn't immediately clear where Djokovic planned to travel next. The Dubai Duty Free tennis tournament, which Djokovic won in 2020, doesn't start until Feb. 14. Dubai, the commercial capital of the United Arab Emirates, doesn't require travelers to be vaccinated, though they must show a negative PCR test to board a flight. Djokovic had won nine Australian Open titles, including three in a row, and a total of 20 Grand Slam singles trophies, tied with rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the most in the history of men’s tennis. Federer is not playing while recovering from injury, and Nadal is the only former Australian Open men's champion in the tournament that began Monday. Djokovic’s visa was initially canceled on Jan. 6 by a border official who decided he didn’t qualify for a medical exemption from Australia’s rules for unvaccinated visitors. He was exempted from the tournament’s vaccine rules because he had been infected with the virus within the previous six months. He won an appeal to stay for the tournament, but Australia's immigration minister later revoked his visa. Three Federal Court judges decided unanimously Sunday to affirm the immigration minister’s right to cancel Djokovic’s visa. Read: Double-fault: Visa revoked again, Djokovic faces deportation Vaccination amid the pandemic was a requirement for anyone at the Australian Open, whether players, their coaches or anyone at the tournament site. More than 95% of all Top 100 men and women in their tours’ respective rankings are vaccinated. At least two men — American Tennys Sandgren and Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert — skipped the first major tournament of the year due to the vaccine requirement. Djokovic's attempt to get the medical exemption for not being vaccinated sparked anger in Australia, where strict lockdowns in cities and curbs on international travel have been employed to try to control the spread of the coronavirus since the pandemic began.
Novak Djokovic was reported to be back in immigration detention Saturday after his legal challenge to avoid being deported from Australia for being unvaccinated for COVID-19 was moved to three judges of a higher court. A Federal Court hearing has been scheduled for Sunday, a day before the men’s No. 1-ranked tennis player and nine-time Australian Open champion was due to begin his title defense at the first Grand Slam tennis tournament of the year. Police closed down a lane behind the building where Djokovic’s lawyers are based and two vehicles exited the building mid-afternoon local time on Saturday. In television footage, Djokovic could be seen wearing a face mask in the back of a vehicle near an immigration detention hotel. Also read: Double-fault: Visa revoked again, Djokovic faces deportation The Australian Associated Press reported that Djokovic was back in detention. He spent four nights confined to a hotel near downtown Melbourne before being released last Monday when he won a court challenge on procedural grounds against his first visa cancellation. Immigration Minister Alex Hawke on Friday blocked the 34-year-old Serb’s visa, which was originally revoked when he landed at a Melbourne airport on Jan. 5. Deportation from Australia can lead to a three-year ban on returning to the country, although that may be waived, depending on the circumstances. Djokovic has acknowledged that his travel declaration was incorrect because it failed to indicate that he had been in multiple countries over the two weeks before his arrival in Australia. But the incorrect travel information is not why Hawke decided that deporting Djokovic was in the public interest. His lawyers filed documents in court on Saturday that revealed Hawke had stated that “Djokovic is perceived by some as a talisman of a community of anti-vaccination sentiment.” Australia is one of the most highly vaccinated populations in the world, with 89% of people aged 16 and older fully inoculated for COVID-19. But the minister said that Djokovic’s presence in Australia may be a risk to the health and “good order” of the Australian public. His presence “may be counterproductive to efforts at vaccination by others in Australia,” the minister said. The Health Department advised that Djokovic was a “low” risk of transmitting COVID-19 and a “very low” risk of transmitting the disease at the Australian Open. The minister cited comments Djokovic made in April 2020, before a COVID-19 vaccine was available, that he was “opposed to vaccination.” Djokovic had “previously stated he wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine” to compete in tournaments. The evidence “makes it clear that he has publicly expressed anti-vaccination sentiment,” the minister wrote in his reasons for canceling Djokovic’s visa. Djokovic’s lawyers argue that the minister had cited no evidence that Djokovic’s presence in Australia may “foster anti-vaccination sentiment.” Djokovic will be allowed out of hotel detention on Sunday to visit his lawyers’ offices for the video court hearing. On Saturday, Federal Chief Justice James Allsop announced that he would hear the case with Justices David O’Callaghan and Anthony Besanko. The decision for three judges to hear the appeal instead of a single judge elevates the importance of the case from the judiciary's perspective and potentially gives Djokovic an advantage. The trio are regarded as experienced judges who are more likely to find a government minister at fault than their more junior colleagues. O’Callaghan had earlier suggested a full bench hear the case. A full bench is three or five judges. A full bench means any verdict would be less likely to be appealed. The only avenue of appeal would be the High Court and there would be no guarantee that that court would even agree to hear such an appeal. Djokovic’s lawyer Paul Holdenson opted for a full bench while Hawke’s lawyer Stephen Lloyd preferred a single judge. “There's nothing special about the grounds,” Lloyd argued, referring to Djokovic's argument that Hawke had made an irrational decision based on no evidence. “They're not novel legally and we say there's no justification for stepping out of the ordinary” by appointing three judges, Lloyd added. Legal observers suspect Lloyd wanted to keep the option open of another Federal Court appeal because he thinks the minister can mount a stronger case without the rush to reach a verdict before Monday. Also read: Djokovic in Australian Open draw despite visa uncertainty Djokovic has won the past three Australian Opens, part of his overall Grand Slam haul of 20 championships. He is tied with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer for the most by a man in history. In a post on social media Wednesday that constituted his most extensive public comments yet on the episode, Djokovic blamed his agent for checking the wrong box on the form, calling it “a human error and certainly not deliberate.” In that same post, Djokovic said he went ahead with an interview and a photo shoot with a French newspaper in Serbia despite knowing he had tested positive for COVID-19 two days earlier. Djokovic has been attempting to use what he says was a positive test taken on Dec. 16 to justify a medical exemption that would allow him to skirt the vaccine requirement on the grounds that he already had COVID-19. In canceling Djokovic’ visa, Hawke said that Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government “is firmly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.” Morrison himself welcomed Djokovic’s pending deportation. The episode has touched a nerve in Australia, and particularly in Victoria state, where locals went through hundreds of days of lockdowns during the worst of the pandemic. Australia faces a massive surge in virus cases driven by the highly transmissible omicron variant. On Friday, the nation reported 130,000 new cases, including nearly 35,000 in Victoria state. Although many infected people aren’t getting as sick as they did in previous outbreaks, the surge is still putting severe strain on the health system, with more than 4,400 people hospitalized. It has also disrupted workplaces and supply chains. Djokovic’s supporters in Serbia have been dismayed by the visa cancellations. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Friday accused the Australian government of “harassing” and “maltreating” Djokovic and asked whether it is just trying to score political points ahead of upcoming elections. “Why didn’t you return him back right away, or tell him it was impossible to get a visa?” Vucic asked the Australian authorities in a social media address. “Why are you harassing him and why are you maltreating not only him, but his family and an entire nation that is free and proud." Everyone at the Australian Open — including players, their support teams and spectators — is required to be vaccinated. According to Grand Slam rules, if Djokovic is forced to pull out of the tournament before the order of play for Day 1 is announced, No. 5 seed Andrey Rublev would move into Djokovic’s spot in the bracket. If Djokovic withdraws from the tournament after Monday’s schedule is released, he would be replaced in the field by what’s known as a “lucky loser” — a player who loses in the qualifying tournament but gets into the main draw because of another player’s exit before competition has started. And if Djokovic plays in a match — or more — and then is told he can no longer participate in the tournament, his next opponent would simply advance to the following round and there would be no replacement.
Novak Djokovic faces deportation again after the Australian government revoked his visa for a second time, the latest twist in the ongoing saga over whether the No. 1-ranked tennis player will be allowed to compete in the Australian Open despite being unvaccinated for COVID-19. Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said Friday he used his ministerial discretion to cancel the 34-year-old Serb’s visa on public interest grounds — just three days before play begins at the Australian Open, where Djokovic has won a record nine of his 20 Grand Slam titles. Djokovic’s lawyers were expected to appeal at the Federal Circuit and Family Court, which they already successfully did last week on procedural grounds after his visa was first canceled when he landed at a Melbourne airport. Read: Djokovic in Australian Open draw despite visa uncertainty A hearing was scheduled for Friday night. Deportation from Australia can lead to a three-year ban on returning to the country, although that may be waived, depending on the circumstances. Hawke said he canceled the visa on “health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so.” His statement added that Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government “is firmly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.” Morrison himself welcomed Djokovic’s pending deportation. The whole episode has touched a nerve in Australia, and particularly in Victoria state, where locals went through hundreds of days of lockdowns during the worst of the pandemic and there is a vaccination rate among adults of more than 90%. Australia is currently facing a massive surge in virus cases driven by the highly transmissible omicron variant. On Friday, the nation reported 130,000 new cases, including nearly 35,000 in Victoria state. Although many infected people aren’t getting as sick as they did in previous outbreaks, the surge is still putting severe strain on the health system, with more than 4,400 people hospitalized. It’s also causing disruptions to workplaces and supply chains. “This pandemic has been incredibly difficult for every Australian but we have stuck together and saved lives and livelihoods. ... Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected,” Morrison said in a statement. “This is what the Minister is doing in taking this action today.” Everyone at the Australian Open — including players, their support teams and spectators — is required to be vaccinated for the illness caused by the coronavirus. Djokovic is not inoculated and had sought a medical exemption on the grounds that he had COVID-19 in December. That exemption was approved by the Victoria state government and Tennis Australia, apparently allowing him to obtain a visa to travel. But the Australian Border Force rejected the exemption and canceled his visa when he landed in Melbourne on Jan. 5. Djokovic spent four nights in an immigration detention hotel before a judge on Monday overturned that decision. That ruling allowed Djokovic to move freely around Australia and he has been practicing at Melbourne Park daily to prepare to play in a tournament he has won each of the past three years. He had a practice session originally scheduled for mid-afternoon Friday at Rod Laver Arena, the tournament’s main stadium, but pushed that to the morning and was finished several hours before Hawke’s decision was announced in the early evening. After the visa cancellation from Hawke, media started gathering outside the building where Djokovic reportedly was meeting with his lawyers. An Australian Open spokeswoman said tournament organizers did not have any immediate comment on the latest development in Djokovic's situation, which has overshadowed all other story lines heading into the year's first Grand Slam event. “It’s not a good situation for anyone,” said Andy Murray, a three-time Grand Slam champion and five-time runner-up at the Australian Open. “Just want it obviously to get resolved. I think it would be good for everyone if that was the case. It just seems like it’s dragged on for quite a long time now — not great for the tennis, not great for the Australian Open, not great for Novak.” Tennis Australia announced that nine players would hold pre-tournament news conferences Saturday, and Djokovic’s name was not on the list. With his legal situation still in limbo, Djokovic was placed in the tournament bracket in Thursday's draw, slated to face Miomir Kecmanovic in an all-Serbian matchup in the first round. According to Grand Slam rules, if Djokovic is forced to pull out of the tournament before the order of play for Day 1 is announced, No. 5 seed Rublev would move into Djokovic’s spot in the bracket and face Kecmanovic. If Djokovic withdraws from the tournament after Monday’s schedule is released, he would be replaced in the field by what’s known as a “lucky loser” — a player who loses in the qualifying tournament but gets into the main draw because of another player’s exit before competition has started. Read: Djokovic admits travel declaration had incorrect information And if Djokovic plays in a match — or more — and then is told he can no longer participate in the tournament, his next opponent would simply advance to the following round and there would be no replacement. Melbourne-based immigration lawyer Kian Bone said Djokovic’s lawyers face an “extremely difficult” task to get court orders over the weekend to allow their client to play next week. Speaking hours before Hawke’s decision was announced, Bone said: “If you left it any later than he has done now, I think from a strategic standpoint, he’s really hamstringing Djokovic’s legal team, in terms of what sort of options or remedies he could obtain.” Djokovic’s lawyers would need to go before a duty judge of the Federal Circuit and Family Court, or a higher judge of the Federal Court, to get two urgent orders. One order would be an injunction preventing his deportation, such as what he won in court last week. The second would force Hawke to grant Djokovic a visa to play. “That second order is almost not precedented,” Bone said. “Very rarely do the courts order a member of the executive government to grant a visa.”