Tennis: Novak Djokovic holds top seed for Australian Open draw as decision still to be made on possible deportation

Novak Djokovic’s quest to claim a 10th Australian Open singles title will begin against fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanović – provided he remains in the competition.

The draw for this year’s tournament was delayed on Thursday afternoon just moments before it was due to start. With Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison making an address soon after, many thought there would finally be a decision made as to whether Djokovic would be allowed to remain in the country.

The World No1 and top seed for the tournament’s hopes of taking to the courts in Melbourne was thrown into limbo upon his arrival into Australia last week due to his undeclared vaccination status.

While he believed he had acquired a medical exemption from the Victoria state government that would shield him from the strict vaccination regulations in place for this year’s first major tennis tournament, the country denied him entry and cancelled his visa because he failed to meet the requirements for said exemption.

Djokovic appealed the decision and has been able to stay in Australia until an official ruling had been made.

While many expected that decision would be revealed in Morrison’s address, immigration minister Alex Hawke continues to mull over his decision.

There was nary a mention of the Serbian star in Morrison’s press conference, and he was quick to bat away a question about when a resolution might be found in the case.

“I will refer to Mr Hawke’s most recent statement – that position hasn’t changed,” Morrison said. “These are personal ministerial powers able to be exercised by Minister Hawke and I don’t propose to make any further comment at this time.”

A statement from Hawke’s office yesterday said the matter was still under consideration after Djokovic’s legal team made a number of further submissions.

The nine-time Australian Open champion, who was able to train on Rod Laver Arena on Thursday, addressed the situation in a statement on Wednesday night, revealing his agent “ticked the incorrect box” on his travel declaration before entering Australia.

Djokovic has confessed to the “human error”, claiming it was “certainly not deliberate”. He blamed “challenging times in a global pandemic” for the mistake.

Djokovic also admitted to partaking in an interview with French newspaper L’Equipe after knowing he had tested positive to Covid-19 earlier that week, a decision he described as an “error of judgement”.

Earlier on Thursday, fresh reports surfaced that the Serbian star was now being investigated by Spanish authorities as to whether he entered the country illegally, after confirmed he had been in Spain withing 14 days of his arrival in Australia.

Tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg revealed Spains’s policy stipulates “unvaccinated tourists” are not allowed to enter the country and he’d need to prove his work was “essential” to get in.

Djokovic is now under investigation by three countries: Australia, Serbia and Spain, withSerbia investigating whether he broke rules around Covid isolation after he admitted to attending an interview and photo shoot even after testing positive.

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