Djokovic heading back to detention before crunch Australia deportation hearing

By Sports Desk January 14, 2022

Novak Djokovic's Australian Open fate is set to be determined in a fresh hearing on Sunday – with the defending champion back into detention before that takes place.

In a crushing blow to his preparations for the grand slam, Djokovic learned on Friday that his visa had been revoked for a second time, meaning he faces the prospect of deportation.

The 34-year-old is fighting the decision, and lawyer Nick Wood, on behalf of Djokovic, contended in a directions hearing on Friday evening that the "underlying new rationale" behind the Australian government's latest move to kick out the Serbian is that it contends his presence "will excite anti-vax sentiment".

Wood said immigration minister Alex Hawke had given no consideration to the impact that deporting Djokovic may have among those opposed to COVID-19 vaccines, saying his client was of "negligible risk", "of good standing" and had a medical contraindication to a vaccine.

In a statement released on Friday, Hawke said the decision had been taken "on health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so".

Djokovic has expressed opposition to vaccine mandates in the past and has confirmed he has not been vaccinated.

For Djokovic, Wood said: "The minister only considers the potential for exciting anti-vax sentiment in the event that he's present, but the binary alternative of forcibly removing this high profile, legally compliant, negligible risk, medical contraindication player, precluding or impairing his ability to come back to Australia for three years and prejudicing his career, on the basis of two statements made in 2020 and the possible perception of those statements by others; the minister gives no consideration whatsoever to what effect that may have on anti-vax sentiment and indeed on public order. That seems patently irrational."

The case has been transferred from the Federal Circuit Court to the Federal Court of Australia, judge Anthony Kelly said, and will take place via videolink.

An initial hearing will take place with justice David O'Callaghan from the Federal Court on Saturday at 10:15 local time (Friday 23:15 GMT), it was announced.

Whatever happens now, this is woeful preparation for Djokovic ahead of the tournament where he was planning to mount an assault on a 10th Australian Open title, and a record-setting 21st grand slam.

He was cleared to spend Friday night at his current accommodation, rather than be moved immediately back into detention, but that is set to occur on Saturday morning at 08:00 local time in Melbourne when he reports for an interview with immigration officials.

Djokovic will then be allowed to attend meetings with his solicitors in person from 10:00 to 14:00 on Saturday, accompanied by Border Force officials, before returning to a detention hotel until he is reunited with his solicitors from 09:00 on Sunday.

To avoid possible disorder on the streets, he is set to meet his legal team away from their Melbourne offices, where fans gathered and unruly behaviour took place following Djokovic's first effort to clear a path to play at the tournament that begins on Monday.

Djokovic will for now be unable to practise at Melbourne Park. His opening match in the Australian Open is due to be scheduled for Monday or Tuesday.

Hawke explained why the visa had been revoked earlier on Friday, saying in a statement: "In making this decision, I carefully considered information provided by the Department of Home Affairs, the Australian Border Force and Mr Djokovic.

"The [Scott] Morrison government is firmly committed to protecting Australia's borders, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic."

Concerns have been expressed over the 34-year-old Djokovic's whereabouts prior to arriving in the country. Djokovic admitted there was a false declaration on his travel form to enter Australia, after it stated he had not travelled in the two weeks before arriving in the country.

The tennis star, who was seen in Spain earlier this month, put that down to "human error" and accepted breaching isolation rules in December after testing positive for COVID-19.

Related items

  • French Open: Zverev was 'planning a holiday' before fighting back to beat Baez French Open: Zverev was 'planning a holiday' before fighting back to beat Baez

    Alexander Zverev says he was planning a holiday when he found himself two sets down to Sebastian Baez in the French Open on Wednesday.

    Baez was on the verge of a huge win on Court Philippe-Chatrier, but Zverev roared back to win 2-6 4-6 6-1 6-2 7-5 and move into the third round.

    It was the third time the German had come from two sets down to secure a victory, having done so at the 2019 US Open semi-finals and at the 2021 French Open.

    Zverev, who saved match point, claims he was thinking about being on the beach when he was on the ropes at Roland Garros.

    "I couldn't have played any worse [at the start], I just tried to find a rhythm and did that. I'm happy still being in the tournament right now," he said.

    "I was planning my holiday in Monaco, where I was going to go and who I was going to with and that relaxed me, thinking about the beach.

    "You just have to find a way. You talk about mental strength and the greats, like Rafa [Nadal], Roger [Federer] and Novak [Djokovic], they always find a way.

    "I will never be at their level, but I'm trying to get closer to them."

    Zverev spoke to Baez at the net following his victory, and asked what he said to the 21-year-old Argentine, he replied: "I told Sebastian this is the worst you will ever feel on a tennis court, right now at this moment.

    "I know how he feels as I lost the US Open final from being two sets up and was two points away.

    "Then the next season I won an Olympic Games gold medal, so you always get better. He is an unbelievably great kid and he will do a lot of unbelievable things in this sport."

    Zverev will next face Brandon Nakashima, who has reached the third round in a grand slam for the first time on his debut in Paris.

    The German will hope to sure up his game for that match, given he made 46 unforced errors against Baez - just one fewer than his opponent.

  • French Open: Djokovic fends off Molcan to reach third round French Open: Djokovic fends off Molcan to reach third round

    Novak Djokovic progressed to the third round of the French Open with a 6-2 6-3 7-6 (7-4) and progress to the third round at the French Open.

    Reigning Roland Garros champion Djokovic needed just half-an-hour to wrap up the first set and looked on his way to a routine win after taking the second set with similar ease.

    But Molcan, coached by Djokovic's former mentor Marian Vajda, rallied in the third set, breaking the world number one for the first time.

    He forced deuce at 6-5 up on Djokovic's serve, but the 20-time grand slam champion reeled off two straight points to take the set to a tie-break.

    World number 38 Molcan started the tie-break by putting Djokovic onto the back foot, forcing the Serbian to scamper across the baseline with some wonderful volleys. He saved the first of three match points with a superb drop shot, but ultimately his opponent had too much.

    Djokovic, who struck 10 aces and 40 winners in  a match that lasted two hours and 16 minutes, will face Aljaz Bedene in round three.

    Data Slam: Seventeen and counting for Novak

    Djokovic, who has won the French Open twice, has now made it into the third round at Roland Garros for the 17th straight year, since making his second appearance at the grand slam back in 2006.

    WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
    Djokovic – 40/19
    Molcan – 31/34

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
    Djokovic – 10/0
    Molcan – 4/2

    BREAK POINTS WON
    Djokovic – 4/8
    Molcan – 1/2

  • French Open: Kerber wins seven in a row on clay for the first time French Open: Kerber wins seven in a row on clay for the first time

    Angelique Kerber clinched a career first at the French Open on Wednesday, winning her seventh match in a row on European clay.

    Kerber, who has won three grand slam titles, headed to Roland Garros in form on the back of a victory at the Internationaux de Strasbourg.

    The 34-year-old, whose last major title came at Wimbledon in 2018, is in the hunt for her first French Open title, which would complete the career Grand Slam.

    While that may seem unlikely for the world number 17, she took a step closer on Wednesday by defeating Elsa Jacquemot 6-1 7-6 (7-2).

    That sent Kerber into the third round at Roland Garros for the first time since 2018 and also saw her win seven successive matches on clay courts in Europe for the first time in her long career.

    "When you've achieved everything, you just play for the love for the game," Kerber explained after her win.

    "I love to play tennis, love to play here in front of you guys, love to play for the atmosphere and working really hard to play here, have the energy from the fans.

    "I still love it, let's see how long I can stay here and play good at a high level."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.