Novak Djokovic’s hopes of defending his Australian Open title have been in serious doubt after being detained again in Melbourne on Saturday, just two days before the start of the Grand Slam. It comes as Australian officials spoofed his visa for a second time and declared the unvaccinated world number one a threat to the public as his views were being talked about. A federal court hearing is scheduled for Sunday as the Serbian fights against deportation.
AFP Sport looks at where the Australian Open leaves it:
– Is Djokovic still in a draw? ,
The 34-year-old is chasing a record 21st Grand Slam, which would make him the most successful male tennis player in history. He was the top seed and remained in a draw to face fellow Serbian Miomir Kekmanovic, ranked 78th in the world, in the first round on Monday. He will be expected to play at the Rod Laver Arena, the largest venue in Melbourne Park.
– What if he is deported? ,
If they are dropped, the Australian Open will miss their defending champions. This doesn’t change the draw very much, but it will need to be reconfigured. According to the rules, the most likely outcome would be the fifth seed in this case replacing Djokovic of Russia. In terms of favorites for the championship, Djokovic’s absence will see second-seeded Daniil Medvedev in pole position alongside 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal. Roger Federer is injured and not there.
– And if he plays? ,
Of all his Slam achievements, winning the crown this time would be the most extraordinary given Djokovic’s badly disrupted build-up, which included several nights in a detention center. He’ll also have to defy a hostile crowd if he plays – his actions have made him public enemy number one in a city that has endured one of the world’s longest COVID lockdowns.
What is the Australian Open called? ,
Tennis Australia, which organizes the Grand Slam, has refused to get involved publicly as the saga has dragged on. The TA has been accused of misleading players about the Covid-19 vaccine requirements to enter the country. Australian media have called for the departure of tournament head Craig Tilly – who has also largely kept quiet.
– What does the tournament do now? ,
Not much, it sits and waits like everyone else for Sunday’s court hearing. Former Australian Open tournament director Paul McNamee said the so-called ‘Happy Slam’ was in limbo.