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 In his favor, Djokovic left Australia quickly after his visa was revoked and has not publicly criticized Australian authorities.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.
Rafael Nadal got to 21 first, breaking the men’s record for most Grand Slam singles titles and doing it the hard way by coming back from two sets down to beat Daniil Medvedev in an almost 5 1/2-hour Australian Open final. Nadal was broken when serving for the championship for the first time at 5-4 in the fifth set, but he made no mistake two games later by served an ace to earn three championship points and converted it on the first attempt. The 35-year-old Spaniard now has one more major title than Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, his long-time rivals in the so-called Big Three. Read:Barty wins drought-breaking Australian Open women’s title With the 2-6, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 win that started Sunday night, was delayed in the 84-minute second set when a protester jumped onto the court, and then finished early Monday morning, Nadal also became just the fourth man in history to win all four of the sport’s major titles at least twice. “Good evening. No, good morning!” Nadal, looking at his watch, told the crowd at Rod Laver Arena when he finally got up for his acceptance speech at 1:30 a.m. In the background, Rod Laver, the ageing Australian tennis great, was in the stands holding up his smartphone to capture the scenes. A woman nearby held up a sign that stated: “Rafa is the GOAT.” For now, in terms of men’s major titles at least, Nadal is the Greatest Of All Time. Nadal said it had been “one of the most emotional matches in my tennis career,” and he praised Medvedev for the part he played in the 5-hour, 24-minute final. It was the second longest Australian Open final ever, after Nadal’s loss to Djokovic in the 2012 decider that lasted 5:53. His victory was even more remarkable considering Nadal flew to Australia with just two matches under his belt in the second half of 2021 because he was sidelined with a chronic foot injury that can be treated but not cured. He also overcame a bout of COVID-19. “For me, it’s just amazing. Being honest, one month and a half ago, I didn’t know if I’d be able to play on the tour again,” Nadal said. “Without a doubt, (it’s) probably been one of the most emotional months in my tennis career. “The huge support I’ve received for the last three weeks will stay in my heart for the rest of my life.” Nadal won his first Australian Open title in 2009 and lost four other finals at Melbourne Park before his dramatic win over U.S. Open champion Medvedev. His conversion rate in major finals is now 21 out of 29. Federer and Djokovic each have 20 majors from 31 finals appearances. Read:Djokovic heads for Belgrade after deportation from Australia Medvedev, who was aiming to be the first man in the Open era to win his second Grand Slam title at the very next major, was ever-so-close to spoiling another 21st celebration. Djokovic was chasing the same record at the U.S. Open last year, and a calendar-year Grand Slam, when Medvedev beat him in straight sets in the final. Federer also had his chance at 21, but Djokovic stopped that when he saved match points before winning the 2019 Wimbledon final. Medvedev now joins Andy Murray among those who’ve lost the final at the next major tournament after their career breakthrough at the highest level. It was just the fourth time Nadal has rallied from two sets down to win a best-of-five-set match, and the first since a fourth-round victory in 2007 at Wimbledon over Mikhail Youzhny. He’s is the first Australian Open champion to come back to win after dropping the first two sets of the final since Roy Emerson in 1965.
Ash Barty really didn’t know how to react to this drought-breaking triumph. The usually so reserved and understated champion just let it all out, yelling “yes ... yes.” A quick walk to the net to congratulate the Australian Open runner-up, 28-year-old American Danielle Collins. Yes, that restored some sense of order. Acknowledge the umpire with a handshake. Yes, that’s another important task for the women’s top-ranked tennis player. Then back onto Rod Laver Arena to scream out again: “yes ... yes.” Yes, it had been 44 years since an Australian won a singles title at the Australian Open, quite an anomaly for a country with such a long list of Grand Slam champions. So no need to keep a lid on the celebrations. An almost full house at Rod Laver Arena, despite ticket restrictions imposed for the COVID-19 pandemic, was rocking. Barty knew what to do when she saw who was presenting the trophy. Her mentor, the Indigenous and Australian tennis icon Evonne Goolagong Cawley, had flown in secretly from Queensland state to hand it over to the next generation star with Indigenous heritage. Instinct kicked in for Barty. It was a big, loving hug. Barty will no longer be weighed down by the 1970s. Read:Nadal wins Australian Open for record 21st major title She recovered from 5-1 down in the second set to beat Collins 6-3, 7-6 (2) in the final on Saturday night, becoming the first Australian to win the Australian Open women’s singles championship since Chris O’Neil in 1978. The pressure is off the 25-year-old Aussie, who has made a remarkable career comeback after taking time off — missing every Grand Slam tournament in 2015 and ’16 — and briefly flirting with a professional cricket career. “It was a little bit surreal,” Barty said. “I didn’t quite know what to do or what to feel — just being able to let out a little bit of emotion, which is a little bit unusual for me, and being able to celebrate with everyone who was there in the crowd, the energy was incredible.” Barty now has Grand Slam singles titles on three surfaces, adding the hard courts of Melbourne Park to her titles on grass at Wimbledon last year and on clay at the 2019 French Open. Serena Williams is the only other active player on the women’s tour with majors on all three surfaces. “This is just a dream come true for me,” Barty said. “I’m just so proud to be an Aussie.” Goolagong Cawley was a trailblazer. She won four of her seven Grand Slam singles titles at the Australian Open from 1974-77, after winning the French Open at the age of 19. She won Wimbledon in 1971 and, after having a baby, in 1980. She reached 11 other major finals, including four in a row at the U.S. Open. And she spotted Barty’s talent at a young age. “Very lucky to be able to give her a hug in some of the biggest moments in my life,” Barty said. “To be able to experience that together on such a big occasion, on such a beautiful court, and in a tournament that means so much to both of us — it was really nice to have her there just as someone to lean on when I wasn’t really sure what to do.” O’Neil was involved in the night, too, ushering the trophy into the stadium. Barty had only conceded one service game through six matches leading into the final. And Collins was the fourth American in as many rounds to take her on, with Barty beating Amanda Anisimova, Jessica Pegula and 2017 U.S. Open runner-up Madison Keys in straight sets. Read:Djokovic heads for Belgrade after deportation from Australia Collins, meanwhile, had to rally from a set and break down to beat Danish teenager Clara Tauson in the third round. She was hampered by a sore back, which prevented her from sitting down in changeovers. Barty took the first set after saving a break point in the fifth game and then breaking in the next. Collins hit back, relying on her high-power, high-intensity game to break Barty’s serve in the second and sixth games. She twice served for the second set, and got within two points of taking her first Grand Slam final to a third. But she lost momentum when Barty jumped into a second serve and sent a return winner down the line in the seventh game. Collins went to talk to the chair umpire when she faced a break point, and got booed by the crowd. When she lost the game, Collins got another chorus of boos. Revived by that kind of energy, Barty won five of the last six games and dominated the tiebreaker. “This crowd is one of the most fun I’ve ever played in front of,” Barty said. “You relaxed me, forced me to play my best tennis.” Until Saturday, Barty’s best run in Australia had ended in a semifinal loss to eventual champion Sofia Kenin in 2020. Australian flags and the red, black and yellow Aboriginal flag were waved around in the crowd. Cathy Freeman, who carried both flags to celebrate her gold medal in the 400 meters at the Sydney 2000 Olympics — one of the defining images of those Games — was there for support, too. Collins, whose previous best run at a major was a semifinal loss here in 2019, paid tribute to her longtime mentor Marty Schneider and her boyfriend Joe Vollen. “Thank you for believing in me,” she said, crying. “I haven’t had a ton of people believing me in my career.” Collins, who doesn’t have a permanent coach, said: “I was pushed to the max, and I gave myself a chance.” “So it was a great event for me. Accomplished some new things. Learned a lot of new things.” The home country’s drought in Australian Open men’s singles dates back to Mark Edmondson’s victory in 1976, but the men’s doubles title is back with a homegrown team for the first time since 1997. Wild-card entrants Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis — the so-called Special Ks — finished off a fairly wild men’s doubles campaign by beating Matt Ebden and Max Purcell 7-5, 6-4.
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 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.”
Novak Djokovic now knows he’ll face fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic in the first-round of his Australian Open title defense, if he’s allowed to play. Djokovic’s visa status dominated attention until the moment the draw was conducted Thursday, after a postponement of 75 minutes, to determine the brackets for the men’s and women’s singles draws at the first major tennis tournament of 2022. He was still in limbo after it. The Australian immigration minister was still considering whether to deport the nine-time and defending Australian Open champion, who is not vaccinated against COVID-19. Also read: Djokovic admits travel declaration had incorrect information Top-ranked Djokovic had his visa canceled on arrival in Melbourne last week when his vaccination exemption was rejected, but he won a legal battle on procedural grounds that allowed him to stay in the country. Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has been considering the question since a judge reinstated Djokovic’s visa last Monday. The tournament starts next Monday. If he’s allowed to stay, Djokovic’s bid for a men's record 21st major title could mean a quarterfinal against No. 7-ranked Matteo Berrettini and possibly a semifinal against Rafael Nadal or third-seeded Alexander Zverev. He is tied with Nadal and Roger Federer on 20 Grand Slam titles, missing a chance for the all-time record when he lost the U.S. Open final to Daniil Medvedev last year. Medvedev, who also ended Djokovic’s run at a calendar-year Grand Slam with that win in New York, is on the opposite end of the draw as the No. 2 seed in Australia. A finalist here last year, he could meet local favorite Nick Kyrgios in the second round, and also No. 5 Andrey Rublev, No. 9 Felix Auger-Aliassime, John Isner in his quarter of the draw. He's seeded to meet No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semis. On the women's side, top-ranked Ash Barty and defending champion Naomi Osaka ended up in the same section of the draw, meaning two of the best players in the tournament could meet in a fourth-round match that could have the feeling of a final. After that, No. 5 Maria Sakkari or No.9 Ons Jabeur could be waiting in the quarterfinals. Osaka, who has been ranked as high as No. 1, slid down the list because of her lack of matches in 2021 and is seeded 13th. Also read: Judge asks what more Djokovic could have done for a visa French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova and No. 8 Paula Badosa are in the same half of the draw, along with 2020 champion Sofia Kenin, who has a tough opener against fellow American Madison Keys and could meet No. 18 Coco Gauff in the third round. In the other half of the draw, No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka has a first-round meeting against wild-card entry Storm Sanders and is seeded to WTA Finals winner Garbine Muguruza in the semifinals. Muguruza is in same quarter as U.S. Open champion Emma Raucanu, who opens against 2017 U.S. Open winner Sloane Stephens, and three-time major winner Simona Halep. The draw ceremony was delayed amid uncertainty over Djokovic’s visa status. It was was scheduled to be held at 3 p.m. local time, but a tournament official told waiting media that the ceremony had been delayed until further notice and declined comment. It eventually started around 4:15 p.m. local time. According to the 2022 Grand Slam Rule Book, 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.
An Australian judge who will decide whether top-ranked tennis star Novak Djokovic plays in the Australian Open questioned on Monday what more the Serbian could have done to meet Australia’s coronavirus entry requirements. The 34-year-old is fighting deportation and the cancellation of his visa in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia. The Australian government canceled his visa shortly after he arrived in Melbourne late Wednesday because officials decided he didn’t meet the criteria for an exemption to an entry requirement that all non-citizens be fully vaccinated for COVID-19. Djokovic, who court documents say is unvaccinated, argued he did not need proof of vaccination because he had evidence that he had been infected with the coronavirus last month. Australian medical authorities have ruled that a temporary exemption for the vaccination rule can be provided to people who have been infected with COVID-19 within six months. Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly noted that Djokovic had provided officials at Melbourne’s airport with a medical exemption given him by Tennis Australia, which is organizing the tournament that starts on Jan. 17, and two medical panels. “The point I’m somewhat agitated about is what more could this man have done?” Kelly asked Djokovic’s lawyer, Nick Wood. Read: Will he stay or will he go? Djokovic’s hearing looms large Wood agreed with the judge that Djokovic could not have done more. Transcripts of Djokovic’s interview with Border Force officials and his own affidavit revealed a “repeated appeal to the officers with which he was dealing that to his understanding, uncontradicted, he had done absolutely everything that he understood was required in order for him to enter Australia,” Wood said. Djokovic has been under guard in hotel quarantine in Melbourne since Thursday, when his visa was canceled. But the judge ordered that the world No. 1-ranked tennis player be released from hotel quarantine during his court hearing. It was not clear where Djokovic relocated to during his hearing. He did not appear on screen in the first hours of the virtual hearing. Lawyers for Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews will make their submission later Monday on why Djokovic should be deported. Djokovic’s lawyers submitted 11 grounds for appeal against his visa cancellation. Read: Djokovic in limbo as he fights deportation from Australia The lawyers described the cancellation as “seriously illogical,” irrational and legally unreasonable. The virtual hearing crashed several times because of an overwhelming number of people from around the world trying to watch the proceedings. Djokovic is a nine-time Australian Open champion. He has 20 Grand Slam singles titles, a men’s record he shares with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Barbora Krajcikova and Rajeev Ram have made the perfect odd-year pairing at the Australian Open, adding the 2021 mixed doubles title to the one they shared in 2019.
As Naomi Osaka strode through the Champion's Walk leading to the court for the Australian Open final — headphones on her ears, racket bag strapped to her back — she reached out her left hand to tap a panel marked with her name and the year of her previous title there.