Tennis star Novak Djokovic was back on the tennis court in Melbourne
Novak Djokovic now has an opponent to prepare for in the first round of the Australian Open, that’s despite a decision over his visa still up in the air just days before the tournament starts. But the Serbian can now be reasonably expected to take on compatriot next week despite a delay to the draw suggesting that a decision over his visa from minister for immigration Alex Hawke was imminent.
Hawke is still considering the possibility of “a personal power of cancellation”, a move which could yet drag on for several days. The men’s world number one broke his silence over a number of accusations of breaking Covid protocol on Wednesday, and he conceded that he broke isolation and conducted an interview with French newspaper L’Equipe despite knowing that he was positive for the virus, such a transgression could result in up to five years in prison if proven that he lied about his positive test.
Djokovic’s problems rumble on further, too, with yet further questions, possibly from the Australian Border Force, over claims he misconstrued information on his travel declaration form, saying he had not travelled elsewhere before heading Down Under – despite photos emerging of him training in Spain just before the new year. Andy Murray has acknowledged Djokovic is likely to have to answer questions in public, too, after the isolation controversy, but hopes the Serbian can get back to focusing on tennis now.
Follow all the latest news and updates as Djokovic prepares for the Australian Open below.
Djokovic will play ‘even better’ against the crowds
Former player Andrew Castle says Novak Djokovic is “stubborn” and having the crowd against him at the Australian Open will make him play “even better”.
Djokovic won his appeal to stay in Australia on Monday after having his visa cancelled for not having sufficient evidence for his medical exemption. However, he could still be deported if Australia’s immigration minister Alex Hawke decides to re-cancel the visa in coming days.
The situation has many predicting crowds will be against him as he goes for a record 21st grand slam but Castle believes Djokovic will thrive in that environment.
“He’s such a stubborn and hard-working guy on court, if he gets this exemption and if the Australian government don’t supersede the court, I would say that he’s going to tee it up and play,” he told Sky.
“If he can get through two, three, four rounds, and play his way into the tournament – we know how good he is – I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him into the second week of this grand slam once again, because he is so stubborn and so good.
“When it’s time, and the bell rings, he’ll be ready to compete. Sometimes Novak can be even better when everyone is against him than when everyone is for him.”
Jack Rathborn13 January 2022 08:20
Djokovic saga damaging for everyone, says ATP
The controversy surrounding Novak Djokovic’s entry into Australia has been “damaging on all fronts”, according to the men’s professional tennis tour.
The 34-year-old is still awaiting a verdict from Australian immigration minister Alex Hawke, who is considering whether to cancel his visa despite Djokovic’s victory in court.
The decision to grant Djokovic, who is unvaccinated, a medical exemption for the tournament caused controversy in Australia, which has seen some of the world’s strictest lockdowns and vaccination rules during the pandemic.
“The ATP fully respects the sacrifices the people of Australia have made since the onset of Covid-19 and the stringent immigration policies that have been put in place,” the organisation said.
“In travelling to Melbourne, it’s clear Novak Djokovic believed he had been granted a necessary medical exemption in order to comply with entry regulations.
“The series of events leading to Monday’s court hearing have been damaging on all fronts, including for Novak’s well-being and preparation for the Australian Open.”
Jack Rathborn13 January 2022 08:10
Serbian facing five years in prison if he misled court over Covid test
Novak Djokovic could face five years in prison if found to have lied about his positive Covid test to Australia authorities.
Djokovic said in a sworn affidavit to the Federal Circuit Court that he was diagnosed with coronavirus on 16 December. “On 16 December 2021, I was tested and diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 (Covid),” he said. The judge eventually ruled that Djokovic should not have his visa revoked and should be allowed to stay in Australia to play tennis.
The punishment for misleading information to court is a custodial sentence of up to five years.
Djokovic was pictured practising on Wednesday ahead of the tournament, which begins on Monday 17 January. He is predicted to get a “hostile” welcome from both the crowd and some of his colleagues in the dressing room over the coming fortnight as the 34-year-old chases a men’s record 21st Grand Slam title, and a 10th in Melbourne.
Jack Rathborn13 January 2022 08:00
Novak Djokovic admits attending interview with journalist while Covid positive
As a reminder of today’s top story, Novak Djokovic has admitted to making an “error of judgement” by attending an interview with a French journalist while Covid positive.
In a lengthy statement on social media, he hit out at “misinformation” surrounding his entry into Australia and travel documents. The world No 1 said “human error” was behind a mistake made on his Australian entry documents that breached the country’s strict laws on reporting recent travel.
“This was human error and certainly not deliberate,” Djokovic said in a post on Instagram. “We are living in challenging times in a global pandemic and sometimes these mistakes can occur.”
The statement came as Australia’s immigration minister Alex Hawke considered whether to cancel the world No 1 tennis player’s visa ahead of the Australian Open, which starts on 17 January.
Giving false or misleading information in the form is an offence, carrying a maximum penalty of 12 months in prison and a fine as well as cancellation of the offender’s visa.
Jack Rathborn13 January 2022 07:55
Novak Djokovic learns first-round opponent and route to Australian Open final
It appeared a decision from Immigration Minister Alex Hawke could be imminent when the draw was postponed from 3pm (4am UK) at the last minute and without explanation.
But it was then announced it would be held 75 minutes later, with Hawke now not expected to make his decision until Friday.
Djokovic, who is looking to win a record 10th Australian Open and 21st grand slam title, duly took his place at the top of the draw.
If he is forced out of the tournament ahead of Monday’s order of play being announced, the seeds will be shuffled around, with fifth seed Andrey Rublev taking Djokovic’s place.
If it happens after that time but before the first-round match, he will be replaced by a lucky loser from qualifying.
Jack Rathborn13 January 2022 07:52