Novak Djokovic included in delayed Australian Open draw as uncertainty continues
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Novak Djokovic is ‘very aware’ he could be turfed out of Australia within the next few days. It’s currently business as usual for the Serbian as he practices in Melbourne ahead of this month’s Australian Open, whilst the explosive saga surrounding his visa rumbles on.
Despite his visa being revoked by border force officials last week, Djokovic, 34, had seemingly won his fight to remain in the country when a court ruled that despite being unvaccinated, the medical exemption he was granted to play in the tournament was legitimate.
However, immigration minister Alex Hawke possesses the power to overrule the judicial system and cancel his visa a second time, a notion that is looking increasingly likely after more revelations about the world no 1 came to light.
Since Monday’s hearing, he’s been forced to admit flaunting isolation rules despite knowing he was positive for Covid-19, and had to explain discrepancies with his immigration forms, which he attributed to his agent making an honest mistake.
While Hawke prepares to make his decision, Djokovic has hit the practice courts at Melbourne Park, and was included in the main draw, paired against fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic.
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However, Todd Woodbridge, one of the most successful doubles players of all time, has revealed that Djokovic is under no illusions about the clouds hanging over his bid to win an unprecedented 21st Grand Slam title in Victoria.
Woodbridge, 50, spent time with him before he practiced on Thursday, and told World Wide Sports “he is very aware that he may not get to the starting blocks for round one.”
The Australian also said it was clear the ordeal was adversely affecting the defending champion, with Djokovic spending five nights in a Government detention hotel before being freed to join with his coaching staff and practice.
“It is very, very visible for me that it’s taking a toll on him,” he said. “What is really interesting is he said ‘I like a challenge and this is going to be another challenge’ and i think that is one of the biggest understatements that we’ve heard from him.
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“What he’s about to put himself through is very, very challenging.
“And when I say it’s taking a toll you’ve got to think that when he goes into his matches, the energy he has spent, before he’s even hit round one, is enormous.
“Does he have enough in the tank to be able to go seven matches and win a tenth [Australian Open] championship. We’ll have to wait and see, there’s still so much stuff to play out.”
Djokovic is the top seed for the tournament, with his place set to go to a ‘lucky loser’ from qualifying if Hawke ultimately decides to rule against him.
The saga has proved a divisive one, with Former French Open winner Nicola Pietrangeli encouraging players to boycott the event if Djokovic is allowed to take part.
“If Djokovic plays at the Australian Open, all the vaccinated players should boycott the event,” he said.
“Let the Serb play alone against fellow anti-vaxxers.”
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