Novak Djokovic included in delayed Australian Open draw as uncertainty continues
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Public opinion appears to be against Novak Djokovic as he continues his fight to avoid being deported and play in the Australian Open. The Serbian initially headed to Victoria as clear favourite to win the tournament for the 10th time, and claim an unprecedented 21st Grand Slam title in the process.
However, those plans were thrown into chaos when he had his visa revoked at Melbourne Airport, with border force officials dissatisfied with the medical exemption he was granted by Tennis Australia for not being vaccinated against Covid-19.
He was then detained in a Government hotel whilst his lawyers prepared an appeal against him being deported, and on Monday a judge ruled in favour of the world no 1.
This was far from the end of the matter though, with Djokovic then forced to admit that he flaunted isolation rules in Serbia after testing positive for Covid on December 16 – and explain why his immigration forms contained misinformation.
Australia’s immigration officer Adam Hawke possesses the power to overturn the court’s ruling, and is currently considering his decision – with Djokovic himself reportedly aware of the likelihood of his visa being cancelled for a second time.
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In the meantime, the world no 1 has continued to practice at the Rod Laver Arena and was included in the Australian Open draw, matched against fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic.
Based on ranking, he would be expected to face young American prospect and world No 41 Tommy Paul in the second round.
But a recent Express poll suggests that even if he does avoid being removed from the country, fan favour may be in short supply.
Readers were asked whether or not the Australian Government should deport the 34-year-old despite the judge’s visa decison, with 22,964 people opting to respond.
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Emphatically, 19,090 voted ‘yes’, which equated to 83%, while only 3,629, 16%, opted for ‘no’. Just 16 readers, only 1%, said they were undecided.
A second, more complex question was also put to tennis fans, whether or not Djokovic could still win the Australian Open after spending three full days detained in the hotel in Carlton, Victoria.
There were 21,142 responses, and this time opinions were far more evenly split, with 6,878 – 33% – believing he still could.
A total of 6,502 people, 31%, said he couldn’t but the 37% majority opted for ‘not sure’, with 7,762 paticipants seemingly torn on his potential chances.
Until Hawke announces his decision, Djokovic will remain the top seed, with his place set to go to a ‘lucky loser’ from qualifying if his name his removed.
The saga has thus far dominated the build-up to the first Grand Slam event of the season, which will get underway in Melbourne on Monday, January 17.
Djokovic has won the event in each of the past three years.
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