Djokovic included in delayed Australian Open draw despite ongoing visa uncertainty

By Sports Desk January 13, 2022

Novak Djokovic has been drawn against Miomir Kecmanovic in the opening round of the Australian Open as the defending champion awaits to hear if he can stay in the country.

World number one Djokovic was last week given a medical exemption to enter Australia, despite not being vaccinated, only for border officials to block it upon his arrival.

The 20-time grand slam winner was detained for four days while waiting to appeal the case on Monday, which went in his favour at Melbourne Circuit Court.

Djokovic has since started training ahead of the Australian Open, which begins next Monday, though immigration minister Alex Hawke may yet cancel his visa for a second time. 

A decision on whether Djokovic can compete in the first grand slam of the year, which he has won a record nine times, could be made on Thursday.

Should he be given the all clear to take part, Djokovic will face compatriot Kecmanovic in the first round at Melbourne Park.

Thursday's draw, which was delayed by one hour and 15 minutes for unspecified reasons, also saw fellow 20-time grand slam winner Rafael Nadal paired with Marcos Giron.

Nadal is in the same half of the draw as Djokovic, meaning the pair could meet in the semi-finals, while third seed Alexander Zverev is also in the top half.

Second seed and 2021 finalist Daniil Medvedev is in the bottom half along with Stefanos Tsitsipas and will take on Henri Laaksonen first up.

In the women's draw, Australia's world number one Ash Barty will begin her quest for glory on home soil against a qualifier.

The top seed is on a collision course with defending champion Naomi Osaka, who goes face-to-face with Camila Osorio in round one on her return from a four-month break.

Reigning US Open winner Emma Raducanu is up against Sloane Stephens, who won the New York major in 2017, while Storm Sanders awaits second seed Aryna Sabalenka.

Related items

  • Wimbledon defends Russian, Belarusian ban amid WTA and ATP penalties Wimbledon defends Russian, Belarusian ban amid WTA and ATP penalties

    The All England Club was disappointed by the penalties dished out by the ATP, WTA and ITF ahead of Wimbledon. 

    The season's third major will not have any ranking points after tennis' governing bodies decided to punish the grand slam's organisers for banning Russian and Belarusian athletes.  

    That decision from the All England Club was made in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

    However, Wimbledon's organisers have now hit out at the three governing bodies. 

    A statement began: "Given the position taken by the UK government to limit Russia's global influence, which removed automatic entry by ranking, and the widespread response of government, industry, sport and creative institutions, we remain of the view that we have made the only viable decision for Wimbledon as a globally renowned sporting event and British institution, and we stand by the decision we have made. 

    "We were not prepared to take any actions that could risk the personal safety of players or their families. We believe that requiring written declarations from individual players – and that would apply to all relevant players – as a condition of entry in the high-profile circumstances of Wimbledon would carry significant scrutiny and risk. 

    "In addition, we remain unwilling to accept success or participation at Wimbledon being used to benefit the propaganda machine of the Russian regime, which, through its closely controlled State media, has an acknowledged history of using sporting success to support a triumphant narrative to the Russian people. 

    "We therefore wish to state our deep disappointment at the decisions taken by the ATP, WTA and ITF in removing ranking points for the championships. We believe these decisions to be disproportionate in the context of the exceptional and extreme circumstances of this situation and the position we found ourselves in, and damaging to all players who compete on Tour." 

    The statement added that the All England Club was "considering [its] options" while also communicating with organisers of the other grand slams. 

  • WTA joins ATP in stripping Wimbledon of ranking points WTA joins ATP in stripping Wimbledon of ranking points

    The WTA has joined the ATP in electing to strip Wimbledon of ranking points for 2022. 

    That decision comes in the wake of the All England Club's call to prevent Russian and Belarusian players from competing at the grand slam. 

    The All England Club chose to ban athletes from those nations in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine earlier this year, which was facilitated by neighbouring Belarus. 

    While the WTA insisted it holds solidarity with the people of Ukraine and reiterated its condemnation of Russia's attack, chief executive Steve Simon said: "Nearly 50 years ago, the WTA was founded on the fundamental principle that all players have an equal opportunity to compete based on merit and without discrimination.  

    "The WTA believes that individual athletes participating in an individual sport should not be penalised or prevented from competing solely because of their nationalities or the decisions made by the governments of their countries. 

    "The recent decisions made by the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) to ban athletes from competing in the upcoming UK grass-court events violate that fundamental principle, which is clearly embodied in the WTA rules, the grand slam rules and the agreement the WTA has with the grand slams. 

    "As a result of the AELTC's position that it will not honour its obligation to use the WTA rankings for entry into Wimbledon and proceed with a partial field not based on merit, the WTA has made the difficult decision to not award WTA ranking points for this year's Wimbledon championships." 

    While no ranking points will be awarded at Wimbledon, the WTA events due to be held in Birmingham, Nottingham and Eastbourne will retain theirs. However, the WTA tournament sanctions will be placed on probation. 

    Simon concluded: "The stance we are taking is about protecting the equal opportunities that WTA players should have to compete as individuals.  

    "If we do not take this stance, then we abandon our fundamental principle and allow the WTA to become an example to support discrimination based on nationality at other events and in other regions around the world. The WTA will continue to apply its rules to reject such discrimination." 

  • Juvan's aggression pays off with stunning win over Pliskova Juvan's aggression pays off with stunning win over Pliskova

    Aggression was the key for Kaja Juvan as she claimed the second top-10 win of her career, stunning Karolina Pliskova to reach her first WTA Tour final at the Internationaux de Strasbourg.

    World number 81 Juvan knocked off world number eight Pliskova 6-2 7-5 in just one hour and 26 minutes.

    Speaking afterwards, the 21-year-old said: "This whole year, I feel like I've been so close to beating these players.

    "I was like, 'OK, let's go for it, let's be aggressive, I can do it, I'm always so close.' 

    "We prepared well, and I think I stuck to being aggressive and trying to make the points, not just waiting for her, and that worked at the end.

    "I felt like I was really fast, and I felt really strong, so I wasn't too worried if it's going to go to the third set, if it's going to be a long match. I relaxed and tried to stick to my plan, because I thought at the end it's going to be worth it, no matter what happens."

    Juvan will face three-time grand slam champion Angelique Kerber in the final.

    Kerber won the first set of her semi-final against Oceane Dodin on a tie-break and broke in the opening game of the second before her opponent retired.

    At the Grand Prix Sar La Princesse Lalla Meryem in Rabat, Martina Trevisan beat fellow Italian Lucia Bronzetti in straight sets to book a final with Claire Liu, who won without hitting a ball as fifth seed Anna Bondar withdrew because of a shoulder injury.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.