Tennis star Novak Djokovic was back on the tennis court in Melbourne
Novak Djokovic is preparing for the Australian Open at last, after days of uncertainty over him being allowed to enter the country – and even now there remains suggestions he has more questions to answer. Despite winning his appeal to have his visa application accepted, minister for immigration Alex Hawke is still considering the possibility of “a personal power of cancellation”, a move which could yet drag on for several days.
The men’s world number one has also now admitted he broke isolation and conducted an interview with French newspaper L’Equipe when he knew he was positive for the virus while it has also emerged that he could face up to five years in prison if he lied about his positive test.
He will face yet further questions, possibly from the Australian Border Force, over claims he misconstrued information on his travel declaration form, saying he had not travelled elsewhere before heading Down Under – despite photos emerging of him training in Spain just before the new year. Andy Murray has acknowledged Djokovic is likely to have to answer questions in public, too, after the isolation controversy, but hopes the Serbian can get back to focusing on tennis now.
Follow all the latest news and updates as Djokovic prepares for the Australian Open below.
Novak Djokovic admits attending interview with journalist while Covid positive
As a reminder of today’s top story, Novak Djokovic has admitted to making an “error of judgement” by attending an interview with a French journalist while Covid positive.
In a lengthy statement on social media, he hit out at “misinformation” surrounding his entry into Australia and travel documents. The world No 1 said “human error” was behind a mistake made on his Australian entry documents that breached the country’s strict laws on reporting recent travel.
“This was human error and certainly not deliberate,” Djokovic said in a post on Instagram. “We are living in challenging times in a global pandemic and sometimes these mistakes can occur.”
The statement came as Australia’s immigration minister Alex Hawke considered whether to cancel the world No 1 tennis player’s visa ahead of the Australian Open, which starts on 17 January.
Giving false or misleading information in the form is an offence, carrying a maximum penalty of 12 months in prison and a fine as well as cancellation of the offender’s visa.
Jamie Braidwood12 January 2022 22:24
Renata Voracova ‘did nothing wrong’ before deportation from Australia, says WTA
The WTA continued: “Renata Voracova followed these rules and procedures, was cleared for entry upon her arrival, competed in an event and then suddenly had her visa cancelled when she had done nothing wrong.
“We will continue to work with all authorities on addressing this unfortunate situation in an appropriate manner.”
Voracova confirmed she is now seeking compensation from Tennis Australia over her treatment.
“The air ticket alone cost 60,000 Czech korunas (£2,060) and my coach travelled with me. And then there is all that time, hotels, training for the Grand Slam, the potential prize money,” she told Czech newspaper Denik.
“I hope Tennis Australia will face up to it and that we won’t have to take legal steps.”
Jamie Braidwood12 January 2022 21:48
Djokovic not the only player caught in storm
The Women’s Tennis Association have claimed that doubles player Renata Voracova, who had her visa cancelled and was deported from Australia last week, “did nothing wrong”.
Voracova was granted entry to Australia with a vaccine exemption and took part in a warm-up event in Melbourne before being detained by border officials amid the furore over Novak Djokovic.
After Djokovic’s appeal was upheld in court on Monday, Voracova expressed her disappointment at missing the grand slam.
“I am really sad that this happened,” she said. “It’s one of the biggest tournaments. You go there and this happens. You can’t even imagine it is possible in the 21st century to happen in this country.”
In a statement, the WTA admitted that the situation is “unfortunate”.
Jamie Braidwood12 January 2022 21:25
Djokovic saga damaging for everyone, says ATP
The controversy surrounding Novak Djokovic’s entry into Australia has been “damaging on all fronts”, according to the men’s professional tennis tour.
The 34-year-old is still awaiting a verdict from Australian immigration minister Alex Hawke, who is considering whether to cancel his visa despite Djokovic’s victory in court.
The decision to grant Djokovic, who is unvaccinated, a medical exemption for the tournament caused controversy in Australia, which has seen some of the world’s strictest lockdowns and vaccination rules during the pandemic.
“The ATP fully respects the sacrifices the people of Australia have made since the onset of Covid-19 and the stringent immigration policies that have been put in place,” the organisation said.
“In travelling to Melbourne, it’s clear Novak Djokovic believed he had been granted a necessary medical exemption in order to comply with entry regulations.
“The series of events leading to Monday’s court hearing have been damaging on all fronts, including for Novak’s well-being and preparation for the Australian Open.”
Jamie Braidwood12 January 2022 20:48
Australian TV reporters go viral for Djokovic rant
A leaked video from 7News Melbourne shows two reporters discussing the world No1 prior to their show – in far from complimentary terms.
Rebecca Maddern and Mike Amor’s comments were caught on microphone and camera as they sat behind the newsdesk, with a large image of Djokovic mounted on a screen behind them.
“Whatever way you look at it, Novak Djokovic is a lying, sneaky, a***hole,” Maddern can be heard saying. “Whatever way you look at it…It is unfortunate that everyone stuffed up around him. To go out when you know you’re Covid-positive…well, I don’t think he was even Covid-positive.”
“That’s it, he’s an a**hole. He got a bullsh*t f*****g excuse and then fell over his own f*****g lies. It’s just what happens, right, that’s what happened,’ Amor replied.
Jamie Braidwood12 January 2022 20:26
Djokovic will play ‘even better’ against the crowds
Former player Andrew Castle says Novak Djokovic is “stubborn” and having the crowd against him at the Australian Open will make him play “even better”.
Djokovic won his appeal to stay in Australia on Monday after having his visa cancelled for not having sufficient evidence for his medical exemption. However, he could still be deported if Australia’s immigration minister Alex Hawke decides to re-cancel the visa in coming days.
The situation has many predicting crowds will be against him as he goes for a record 21st grand slam but Castle believes Djokovic will thrive in that environment.
“He’s such a stubborn and hard-working guy on court, if he gets this exemption and if the Australian government don’t supersede the court, I would say that he’s going to tee it up and play,” he told Sky.
“If he can get through two, three, four rounds, and play his way into the tournament – we know how good he is – I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him into the second week of this grand slam once again, because he is so stubborn and so good.
“When it’s time, and the bell rings, he’ll be ready to compete. Sometimes Novak can be even better when everyone is against him than when everyone is for him.”
Jamie Braidwood12 January 2022 19:57
Djokovic set to be included in Australian Open draw
Novak Djokovic is set to learn his first-round opponent as the Australian Open draw takes place on Thursday.
That could put further pressure on the Australian government to make their decision ahead of the draw, which is to be held at 3pm local time (4am GMT).
Djokovic, a nine-time Australian Open champion, has been handed the number one seed in the men’s draw.
While the chances are extremely slim, Djokovic could draw Andy Murray, who is an unseeded player after receiving a wildcard to the tournament.
Jamie Braidwood12 January 2022 19:37
Djokovic’s father declares: ‘Case closed’
While Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open future still hangs in the balance, his father believes it is already a shut case.
In his latest comments to Serbian media, Srdjan Djokovic declared: “The whole situation regarding Novak Djokovic is closed by the verdict of the Australian court.
“An Australian court and an independent judge, after seven hours of examining all the facts, determined that there are no ambiguities and that Novak is free to enter Australia and do his job.”
Djokovic is still awaiting the decision of the Australian immigration minister, who could exercise a personal power to cancel Djokovic’s visa.
Jamie Braidwood12 January 2022 19:14
When will Australian immigration minister decide Novak Djokovic’s fate?
The Serbian awaits the decision of Australian immigration minister Alex Hawke, who must weigh whether to revoke the 20-time Grand Slam winner’s visa.
It had been reported that a decision was due on Djokovic’s visa on Wednesday 12 January, but the day came and went without a ruling.
This means that Hawke will almost certainly decide on either Thursday 13 January or Friday 14 January. Djokovic has been named as the top seed ahead of the men’s draw, which takes place on Thursday.
Jamie Braidwood12 January 2022 18:48
Djokovic interview ‘deeply concerning’
Novak Djokovic has been criticised by the International Tennis Writers Association after he admitted to attending an interview with French newspaper L’Equipe while positive for Covid-19.
Djokovic made the admission in a statement earlier today. The world No 1 tested positive for Covid on 16 December but still went ahead with the interview on 18 December and did not inform the journalist.
“The news that Novak Djokovic did not tell one of our members – and the rest of the L’Equipe team on the day – that he had tested positive for Covid-19 is deeply concerning,” the International Tennis Writers Association said in a statement.
“As journalists, we take great care to adhere to all Covid-19 rules in place and we would expect all players to do the same. Furthermore, it should be noted that all journalists have to be fully vaccinated to travel to Melbourne for this year’s Australian Open.”
Jamie Braidwood12 January 2022 18:23