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Another twist in Novak Djokovic saga as Australian authorities consider action

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke is still considering whether to cancel Djokovic’s visa despite his court victory on Monday, which enabled the 34-year-old to leave his quarantine hotel and resume training in Melbourne.
Novak Djokovic practices on Rod Laver Arena ahead of the 2022 Australian Open at Melbourne Park

Novak Djokovic practices on Rod Laver Arena ahead of the 2022 Australian Open at Melbourne Park

PA

Novak Djokovic’s defence of his Australian Open title remains in doubt after reports emerged that the world number one might have given misleading information to Australian immigration officials.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke is still considering whether to cancel Djokovic’s visa despite his court victory on Monday, which enabled the 34-year-old to leave his quarantine hotel and resume training in Melbourne.

Australian media reported that officials are concerned about Djokovic’s claim on his entry form that he had not travelled in the 14 days prior to his arrival in Australia on January 6.

Social media posts have appeared to make clear that Djokovic attended events in Belgrade and Marbella during the period in question. Djokovic has reportedly claimed that Tennis Australia filled in the form on his behalf.

In addition, there remain separate questions over Djokovic’s confirmed positive test on December 16 and his subsequent meeting with children at a public event in Belgrade the next day, which would have broken Serbia’s own 14-day quarantine rules following a positive test.

Amid the continued confusion, Djokovic’s former coach Boris Becker has warned he risks the wrath of the Australian Open crowd if his quest for a record 21st grand slam title is ultimately allowed to continue.

While Serbian fans celebrated outside the court-house on Monday, many Australians, who have endured months of hard lockdowns, remain angry at the current decision to allow the unvaccinated Djokovic to enter the country.

Becker, who coached Djokovic for three seasons from 2014 to 2016, told the BBC: “I’m sure there will be a couple of boos and whistles, but he’s used to that.

“He was always a street-fighter who had to fight the odds and win over the crowd, and it was fascinating in last year’s US Open final when they finally embraced him.

“The crowd will be difficult with him but with each match he starts, he will win the crowd and they will embrace him again. But he is going to have a difficult first week.”

Meanwhile, eight-time Grand Slam champion Mats Wilander believes the tennis family want Djokovic to compete at the Australian Open, as he seeks his tenth title in Melbourne and a record 21st Grand Slam win, he suggests his refusal to accept a Covid vaccine may make it tough for him to continue in the sport.

“It does look very tricky,” Wilander told Tennis365 in an exclusive interview.

“Being quarantined for a few days before you try and win a Grand Slam tournament is very difficult.

“Will this case set some kind of precedent for him going forward? I’m not sure. It’s just very unfortunate.

“Everyone in tennis supports the idea that Novak should somehow be allowed to play, but at the same time there are rules and regulations for the common Australian person who has not been able to go home forever, so it is up to the officials now.

“We kind of need to know what the medical exemption is for. It is private information, but it would make things easier. How did this come about that he is standing in front of a customs officer and he gets denied (entry)? How did it come to that point? It sounds like Novak thought he was good and suddenly he wasn’t.

“I’m sure the players want him to compete, but tennis is a global sport and we need to show that we are respectable citizens and do what everybody else is doing.”


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