Sports Analysis: Novak Djokovic's legal loss is loss for Open, fans

01:51  17 january  2022
01:51  17 january  2022 Source:   msn.com

Top-ranked Novak Djokovic spends religious day in detention

  Top-ranked Novak Djokovic spends religious day in detention Regardless of who made an error on the visa or the vaccination waiver or whatever, the reality Friday for tennis No. 1 Novak Djokovic was spending one of his important religious holidays in an Australian detention hotel working on his challenge against deportation. Djokovic has been receiving calls from Serbia, including from his parents and the president, hoping to boost his spirits. A priest from the Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Church in Melbourne sought permission from immigration authorities to visit the nine-time Australian Open champion to celebrate the Orthodox Christmas.

Novak Djokovic’s loss in a court of law is also a loss for the Australian Open, a loss for tennis fans and a loss for the sport as a whole.

  Analysis: Novak Djokovic's legal loss is loss for Open, fans © Provided by The Canadian Press

Setting aside, for a moment, everything that led to his deportation from Australia on Sunday — a fundamentally hard-to-fathom reason for any athlete to be forced to sit out any event — who wouldn’t want to see the player who dominated men’s Grand Slam tennis in 2021 competing for what would be a historic title to begin 2022?

Unaccustomed to defeats on a big stage, especially lately, he could have pursued his 10th trophy at Melbourne Park, which would break his own record, and his 21st overall from all major championships, which would break the men’s mark he shares with Rafael Nadal (who is in Australia) and Roger Federer (who is not, following knee surgery).

Will he stay or will he go? Djokovic's hearing looms large

  Will he stay or will he go? Djokovic's hearing looms large After four nights in an Australian immigration detention hotel, Novak Djokovic will get his day in court Monday in a deportation case that has polarized opinions and elicited heartfelt support for the top-ranked tennis star in his native Serbia. Djokovic had his visa canceled after arriving at Melbourne airport last week when Australian border officials ruled that he didn’t meet the criteria for an exemption to an entry requirement that all non-citizens be fully vaccinated for COVID-19. His lawyers have since filed court papers in his challenge against deportation from Australia that show Djokovic tested positive for COVID-19 last month and recovered.

Instead, when play begins in Australia on Monday (Sunday in the U.S.), 2009 winner Nadal, as it turns out, will be the only past Australian Open champ in the 128-player men’s field. And 150th-ranked Salvatore Caruso, a 29-year-old from Italy who is on a four-match losing streak in Grand Slam main-draw play and failed to get through qualifying in Melbourne, will be on the line in the bracket where No. 1 Djokovic stood until Sunday’s Federal Court decision.

Less than 18 hours before the start of the tournament, a three-judge panel unanimously upheld a government minister’s right to cancel Djokovic’s visa, ending his last-ditch effort to be able to play and bringing a close to what the ATP Tour rightly called “a deeply regrettable series of events.”

Will Novak Djokovic play in Australian Open? Latest news on tennis star's visa decision

  Will Novak Djokovic play in Australian Open? Latest news on tennis star's visa decision World No. 1 Novak Djokovic's name is on the Australian Open draw right now, but will he be able to stay? MORE: Australian Open draws 2022 Is Novak Djokovic playing in the Australian Open 2022? Djokovic's playing status is still undetermined as his visa acceptance is being reviewed at this time. However, in the meantime, he is the No. 1 seed for the 2022 Australian Open. He faces a fellow Serbian, Miomir Kecmanovic, in the first round of the tournament, beginning on Monday. It's unclear when Immigration Minister Hawke will have a decision about Djokovic's visa status.

This was how Nadal put it on Saturday, when everyone still was awaiting a resolution: “Honestly, I’m a little bit tired of the situation.”

And to think: This 11-day saga could have been avoided if Djokovic got the COVID-19 vaccine — like more than 95% of all Top 100 men and women in their tours’ respective rankings — or, like at least two other players who didn't have the shots and stayed away, accepted that he wasn't allowed to enter the Australian Open. Vaccination was a requirement for anyone at the tournament: players, their coaches and other entourage members, spectators, media members and everyone else on-site, too.

Djokovic sought, and initially was granted, a medical exemption, saying that he tested positive for COVID-19 in December. In the end, he was forced to leave Australia because he was seen as someone who could stir up anti-vaccine sentiments in a country, like many others, going through a surge of the omicron variant.

TIMELINE: Novak Djokovic's bid to compete at Australian Open

  TIMELINE: Novak Djokovic's bid to compete at Australian Open The Australian government on Friday revoked tennis star Novak Djokovic's visa for a second time, just three days before the Australian Open begins. Djokovic’s lawyers are expected to appeal the cancellation in the Federal Circuit and Family Court, as they successfully did the first time. Melbourne-based immigration lawyer Kian Bone said that Djokovic’s lawyers face an “extremely difficult” task to get court orders over the weekend to allow their client to play next week. His exemption from a COVID-19 vaccination requirement to compete was approved by the Victoria state government and Tennis Australia, which apparently allowed him to receive a visa to travel.

That’s a big reason this drew so much attention.

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Yes, it involved one of the most successful and famous athletes around, someone who came within one victory of the first calendar-year Grand Slam in men's tennis since 1969. And yes, it involved an intriguing “What will come next?” miniseries that included an eight-hour airport interrogation, a forced four-day stay in an immigration hotel, a handful of court hearings, two cancellations of a superstar's visa, one appeal that was successful and, ultimately, another that was denied.

But as polarizing a figure as Djokovic might be, rightly or wrongly, nothing is as polarizing among some folks these days as the coronavirus pandemic itself and the subject of those who won’t get inoculated. It is something that the entire population of the world has a stake in.

What happens next with Djokovic will be fascinating to watch, because there are so many unknowns, at least in part because he hasn’t taken questions or spoken to the media at all since his flight landed in Melbourne on Jan. 5.

Verdict soon in Djokovic's deportation case in Australia

  Verdict soon in Djokovic's deportation case in Australia MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — A court hearing for tennis star Novak Djokovic’s appeal against deportation in Australia ended Sunday and a verdict was expected within hours. Federal Court Chief Justice James Allsop said he and two fellow judges hoped to reach a verdict later Sunday. The top-ranked male tennis player needs to win the appeal to defend his Australian Open title in play that begins on Monday. The Australian government cancelled Djokovic's visa on Friday due to issues surrounding his stance against COVID-19 vaccination. THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

After Sunday’s verdict, he put out a statement saying he was “extremely disappointed” and that he “will now be taking some time to rest and recuperate, before making any further comments beyond this.”

He added: “I am uncomfortable that the focus of the past weeks has been on me and I hope that we can all now focus on the game and tournament I love.”

Nobody knows when he will return to action. Nobody knows which future tournaments might have vaccine requirements. Nobody knows whether Djokovic will ever get vaccinated. Nobody knows how this whole episode might figure into his attempts to form a players’ association that could be the closest thing to a union tennis has seen.

And nobody can know for sure, of course, what Djokovic’s future in the sport will look like.

Seems safe to count on this, though: Djokovic, the ultimate fighter, never daunted by difficult opponents or match points or antagonistic crowds, will get back to winning when he can get back on a court with a racket in his hands.


Howard Fendrich covers tennis for The Associated Press. Follow him at https://twitter.com/HowardFendrich or write to him at hfendrich@ap.org


More AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Howard Fendrich, The Associated Press

Djokovic's deportation exposes Australian border debate .
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Weary after two years of some of the harshest COVID-19 border restrictions in the world, many Australians wanted Novak Djokovic kicked out of their country for traveling to a tennis tournament in their country without being vaccinated. But the backdrop to the government's tough line on the defending Australian Open champion — and Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s description of the expulsion as a “decision to keep our borders strong” — dates to nearly a decade ago. It also shines a light on Australia's complicated, and strongly criticized, immigration and border policies.

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This is interesting!