Rafael Nadal joked that he would rather Novak Djokovic does not play at the upcoming Australian Open after the world number one won his appeal to remain in the country.

Djokovic was left fighting for the right to compete at the opening grand slam of the year, a tournament he has won nine times, after authorities cancelled his visa last week.

A medical exemption was expected to allow the Serbian to enter the country, regardless of his vaccination status, which he has yet to formally disclose.

But the Australian Border Force declared Djokovic had been ordered to fly out of the country on Thursday, sparking a challenge to that decision by the tennis star's legal team.

After both sides had presented their cases, Djokovic was handed an Australian Open lifeline on Monday when defeating a deportation order brought by Australia's government

Judge Anthony Kelly ruled at Melbourne Circuit Court that Djokovic's visa cancellation order should be "quashed" immediately.

There may yet be another twist in the saga, though, as Australia's immigration minister Alex Hawke could still cancel the 34-year-old's visa on new grounds.

Djokovic now appears far more likely to defend his Australian Open crown than he did over the weekend, however, as he goes in search of a 21st major title.

While that will inevitably make Nadal's chances of success at Melbourne Park a whole lot tougher, the Spaniard said the decision to grant Djokovic's freedom must be respected.

"Whether or not I agree with Djokovic on some things, justice has spoken and has said that he has the right to participate in the Australian Open," he told Onda Cero.

"I think it is the fairest decision to do so, if it has been resolved that way. I wish him the best of luck.

"But on a personal level, I'd much rather he didn't play!"

 

Nadal described Djokovic's COVID-19 vaccination controversy "a circus" and reiterated that the vaccine "is the way to stop this pandemic and disaster".

The 35-year-old ramped up his preparations for the Australian Open by winning last week's Melbourne Summer Set without dropping a single set.

That was Nadal's first tournament in five months due to injury and means he has won at least one ATP Tour trophy in every season since 2004 onwards.

He is level with Djokovic and fellow great Roger Federer on 20 grand slam titles, with the trio locked in a race to finish with the most majors.

Kevin Durant hopes to use the Brooklyn Nets' upcoming road games with the Portland Trail Blazers and the Chicago Bulls as a chance to "build chemistry" with Kyrie Irving.

Irving was left off the Nets' initial roster for the 2021-22 season due to electing against receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

Seven-time NBA All-Star Irving is not eligible to play in home games due to New York City's vaccine mandate, but he would have been available for most road games.

The Nets reversed course last month by including the 29-year-old as a part-time player and named him in their line-up for Wednesday's win over the Indiana Pacers.

Still unable to play in home games, Irving will have a chance to get minutes under his belt when the Nets head to Portland and Chicago on Monday and Wednesday respectively.

And Durant, who scored 28 points in Sunday's 121-119 win against the San Antonio Spurs, is glad to have the chance to reignite his partnership with Irving.

"We're definitely a better team, a way better team with Irving," Durant said. "He's definitely going to give us a lift. 

"I'm looking forward to it – a couple games on the road, an opportunity for us to build our chemistry. I'm looking forward to it."

Nets coach Steve Nash has previously said he is reluctant to overuse Irving on his return to the side, but the point guard is set to feature against Portland.

"We'll see," Nash said when asked about Irving's availability. "Typically, with a game under his belt he could play a little more [Monday], so that's definitely possible."

Irving played 32 minutes against the Pacers and scored 22 points – he averaged 26.9 from across 54 games in 2020-21.

The Nets' overtime win against San Antonio, having blown the lead late in regulation, was their first at Barclays Center in six games since December 16 and moved them to 25-13 for the season.

The Eastern Conference's second-placed side are playing catch-up owing to a run of rescheduled games, meaning a long flight from Portland to Chicago and back to New York again before Thursday.

Asked about the uniqueness of the situation, Nash said: "I can't remember all the back-to-backs I ever played in but I don't remember any six-hour flights in between.

"So it's different, but we've got to take it as an opportunity, an opportunity to succeed under adversity and this moment where we're trying to find ourselves again.

"We have a tough back-to-back, so let's embrace it. Let's see if we can win both, and if we can win both, or at least play well in both, maybe that gives us a spark."

LeBron James could not help but admire Ja Morant's astonishing block for the Memphis Grizzlies in their 127-119 defeat of the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.

James top-scored with 35 points and added seven assists for the Lakers, taking him above Oscar Robertson (9,887) for the seventh most in NBA history.

But his efforts was ultimately relegated to a mere footnote afterwards, with Morant attracting headlines and acclaim for his Michael Jordan-esque block on Avery Bradley in the first quarter.

Morant had been robbed by Bradley at the other end but the 22-year-old All-Star contender darted back and came out from behind his rival to smash the ball off the glass with both hands following a lay-up attempt.

He was not going to be modest about it, saying after the game: "I just got back and made an incredible play.

"I was just trying to gather the ball. Most of the time on a break like that, if you block it, they might have a player trailing to get the ball and lay it up.

"It worked out perfect for me. Now I'm probably all over the internet for it."

Indeed he was, and among those applauding his efforts was James, clearly impressed even if the incident was to the Lakers' detriment.

"It starts with timing and also just stalking your prey," James said. "And that's exactly what Ja was doing that whole play, and I saw it happen.

"I didn't know he was going to do it in that fashion, but they got rockets in his calf muscles. It was just a spectacular play."

Russell Westbrook was less willing to dish out praise, though, producing a typically curt response.

"It was a block," he said.

But Jaren Jackson Jr. was not having that, lauding it as arguably the greatest such intervention he had seen in basketball.

"That's probably the best block I've ever seen live, probably the best block I've ever seen, period," he said.

"That was crazy. I knew he was going to do it, too, because he always loads up right before."

Victory saw the Grizzlies improve to 28-14, giving them the fourth-best record in the Western Conference.

It also ensured they set a new franchise record of nine successive wins, having previously racked up eight in a row on four separate occasions.

Novak Djokovic has sensationally been handed an Australian Open lifeline by a Melbourne court.

The men's tennis world number one secured his freedom, defeating a deportation order brought by Australia's government.

The Serbian secured an injunction against immediate deportation on Thursday and spent the weekend at a detention hotel.

Ahead of the Australian Open, where he has won the men's singles title a record nine times, including last year, Djokovic arrived in the country with what he insisted were the correct documents.

Yet Australian Border Force officials cancelled his visa application, stating Djokovic had "failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements to Australia".

Lawyers for the 34-year-old stated he was granted a temporary activity visa on November 18.

The legal team said he was granted a medical exemption for the first grand slam of the year after a COVID-19 positive test on December 16, and was later given the go-ahead by Australia's Department of Home Affairs to travel.

However, lawyers for the government issued their own court filing on Sunday, disputing Djokovic's right to come to Australia.

"There is no suggestion that the applicant had 'acute major medical illness' in December 2021," said the government filing. "All he has said is that he tested positive for COVID-19. This is not the same."

The issue has become a political hot topic in Australia, with Djokovic's stance on COVID-19 matters rankling with many, particularly in the state of Victoria, who have faced hard lockdowns during the pandemic.

The case was listed as Novak Djokovic v Minister for Home Affairs. That is Karen Andrews; however, the matter has been one in which prime minister Scott Morrison has also become a central figure, insisting when Djokovic's visa was revoked: "Rules are rules, especially when it comes to our borders. No one is above these rules."

Djokovic has declined to confirm his vaccination status, but by requiring an exemption to compete at Melbourne Park it has been widely assumed he has not been jabbed. The government filing on Sunday stated it was "common ground that the applicant is unvaccinated".

His case was heard at Melbourne's Federal Circuit Court on Monday, with Judge Anthony Kelly ruling that the Serbian's visa cancellation order is "quashed" immediately.

This means Djokovic's visa is now valid and he can enter Australia ahead of the Australian Open getting underway in a week's time.

Tournament director Craig Tiley had said ahead of the hearing that he hoped Djokovic would be cleared to play and defend his title.

The drawn-out saga may not be entirely over just yet, however, as government lawyer Chris Tran indicated Australia's immigration minister – who has exceptional powers – may consider cancelling Djokovic's visa again.

Novak Djokovic has sensationally been handed an Australian Open lifeline by a Melbourne court.

Klay Thompson marked his return from a two and a half year absence with 17 points as the Golden State Warriors saw off the Cleveland Cavaliers 96-82 on Sunday.

The 31-year-old, who had missed 941 days rehabbing from a torn ACL and ruptured Achilles tendon, was 7 of 18 from the field and 3 of 8 from three-point range.

Thompson also added three rebounds, an assist and a steal in 20 minutes, earning a rousing reception as he left the court

"I was just happy to be out there doing what I love again and getting my rhythm back," Thompson said. "It feels really good... It was surreal. 

"The ovation to start the game, I just was so grateful for these fans. It was special. I'm never going to forget this night."

With his impressive comeback display, Thompson reached 12,000 career points and 1,800 made three-pointers.

Red-hot Grizzlies set franchise record 

The Memphis Grizzlies soared to new heights by beating the Los Angeles Lakers 127-119 as they won nine successive games for the first time in franchise history. 

The Lakers had won four in a row ahead of the contest but could not live with their opponents, who had previously won eight in a row in 2004, 2012, 2013 and 2015.

Desmond Bane had 23 points and Jaren Jackson Jr. added 21, though it was a breathtaking block from Ja Morant to deny Avery Bradley that stole the show.

While it was a disappointing occasion for the Lakers, LeBron James scored 35 points – 23 of those arriving in the first half – and added seven assists.

That saw James move to 9,888 career assists in NBA and pass Oscar Robertson (9,887) for the seventh-most in history.

Mavericks halt Bulls' winning run

The Chicago Bulls' own nine-game winning run came to an end with a 113-99 defeat to the Dallas Mavericks, with Luka Doncic starring for the home side.

Doncic had 22 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists for his third triple-double of the campaign, while Josh Green and Maxi Kleber had season highs of 18 points each.

Elsewhere on Sunday, Kevin Durant scored 28 points for Brooklyn Nets in their 121-119 win against the San Antonio Spurs.

Cam Thomas made a runner in the lane with a little over a second to go in overtime as the Nets, who led by 10 with four minutes to play, snapped a five game losing run at home.

The Las Vegas Raiders sealed their first playoff berth since the 2016 season as Daniel Carlson's game-winning field goal settled a 35-32 classic and sent them and the Pittsburgh Steelers to the postseason and knocked out the Los Angeles Chargers.

A stunning victory for the Jacksonville Jaguars over the Indianapolis Colts earlier on Sunday opened up the possibility of both the Raiders and Chargers settling for a tie in their winner-take-all season finale and sending both to the postseason at the expense of the Steelers.

Chargers coach Brandon Staley emphatically ruled out such a scenario earlier in the week and it appeared as if a stalemate would not be a possibility when the Raiders led by 15 in the fourth quarter.

But Chargers Pro Bowl quarterback Justin Herbert led them back to set up overtime and the game remained tied in the final minute of the extra period after both teams traded field goals.

There was a final twist, though, as Josh Jacobs' 10-yard run on third down, after an inexplicable decision by Staley to call a timeout and stop the clock, put Carlson in position to boot the Chargers out of the postseason, which he did with a 47-yard kick. 

The Raiders will face the Cincinnati Bengals on Wild Card weekend when the Steelers will take on the Kansas City Chiefs.

Las Vegas surged into a 10-0 first-quarter lead but a pair of touchdowns from Austin Ekeler flipped things in the Chargers' favour.

A scoring drive that saw the Chargers allow the Raiders to convert on third down and 23 and Las Vegas benefit from a contentious pass interference penalty enabled the hosts to respond through Josh Jacobs' touchdown plunge before half-time.

Staley paid the price for a dubious decision to go for it on fourth down from Los Angeles' own 18-yard line as the Raiders tacked on a third-quarter field goal.

The Chargers' hopes were circling the drain after Hunter Renfrow caught his second touchdown pass and Herbert was intercepted by former Charger Casey Hayward, the Raiders then adding another field goal to make it 29-14.

But Herbert connected on a 23-yard dart to Josh Palmer and succeeded with the subsequent two-point conversion, before leading the Chargers on a Herculean 19-play drive that ended with him hitting Mike Williams for a 12-yard score as time expired to force overtime.

Carlson restored the Raiders' advantage with his leg, only for the Chargers to respond in kind after a drive on which they became the first team in 30 years to convert sixth fourth downs in the same game.

Yet Herbert's remarkable efforts were undone as poor run defense and worse clock management teed up Carlson to end the Chargers' season.

Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers revelled in a win they won't forget for a long time after claiming a dramatic 27-24 overtime triumph over the Los Angeles Rams to punch their ticket to the postseason.

The Niners went into Sunday's clash at SoFi Stadium knowing a victory would clinch a place in the playoffs for the second time in three seasons. A loss would have allowed the New Orleans Saints, who cruised past the Atlanta Falcons, to sneak in at their expense.

Quarterback Garoppolo, playing with a torn ligament in his left thumb, struggled early and the Niners fell into a 17-0 hole, a Robbie Gould field goal all San Francisco could muster before half-time.

But Deebo Samuel ran for a touchdown and then threw one to Jauan Jennings on a trick play to tie things up, with the same receiver on the end of a pass from Garoppolo to force overtime after Jalen Ramsey's endzone interception followed by Matthew Stafford's touchdown strike to Cooper Kupp had put the Rams back on top 24-17.

The 49ers won the coin toss and Garoppolo led a 12-play drive that ended in a Robbie Gould field goal to give them their first lead of the game, one they clung on to as rookie Ambry Thomas intercepted a Stafford deep shot intended for Odell Beckham Jr. to give San Francisco a sixth successive win over the Rams, securing a Wild Card matchup with the Dallas Cowboys.

Garoppolo was limited in practice throughout the week after missing the 23-7 win over the Houston Texans in Week 17, but felt his hand improved over the course of an instant classic.

Asked about his thumb, Garoppolo told a media conference: "It feels great right now, after a win of course. It got better as it went I would say.

"Obviously with injuries like that your body's just learning and adapting the whole time. Early on it was pretty numb so it felt alright and then just got better and better as it went and I think my arm just kind of learned how to adapt to it.

"[There were] a lot of emotions, throughout the whole game, getting off to a slow start and just coming back like we did.

"It took everything, we say that a lot of weeks but this one really did. I felt it after the game I know a lot of guys in that locker room did, it was one of those games that you won't forget anytime soon."

Shanahan, who said Garoppolo's strong week of practice made it an easy decision to start him over rookie Trey Lance, echoed his quarterback's sentiments.

"Our guys are real resilient, I've been very proud of them," Shanahan said. 

"I'm just glad we get to go into the tournament and be a part of it because regardless of what happened today I was going to be very proud of those guys.

"Our goal every year is to get into the tournament so you've got a chance at the ultimate one. I think it's real hard when you have a season where you lose four in a row [as the Niners did Weeks 3-7].

"Most places when you lose four in a row it's tough to keep guys together. The character in our building and the players and everyone around it makes easy, you can just focus on your job and keep fighting and that's what our guys have done all year, they've just kept fighting, not worried about it anything else, in the meantime I think we've gotten better each time doing that and we've been able to overcome some injuries too."

Cameron Smith set a record 72-hole score on the PGA Tour as he claimed a stunning triumph at the Tournament of Champions.

Smith entered the final round in a share of the lead with Jon Rahm, who tied the course record with his 12-under-par 61 on Saturday.

Rahm was again in stellar form at Kapalua, going seven under for his fourth round, but came up just short as Smith made the most of favourable scoring conditions in Maui.

The Australian carded a blemish-free eight-under 65, which he capped with a three-foot putt for a clinching birdie.

That saw him improve to a 34-under 258 for the tournament. No man has ever finished as many shots under par on the PGA Tour, with Smith beating Ernie Els' tournament record score of 31 under set way back in 2003.

Rahm also bettered that score, as did Smith's compatriot Matt Jones, who finished 32 under par to claim third place.

But the day and the week in Hawaii belonged to Smith, who has now won the tour for three successive seasons.

"Mate, it was intense. Jonny and I played well the whole day and we had Matty in the group in front lighting it up as well," Smith said.

"Unreal round, something I'll never forget for sure.

"I was just trying to hit one shot at a time, I know that sounds cliche. We spoke about it earlier in the day that we wanted to get to 35 under. We missed it by one so in that sense disappointing but happy to come away with the W."

Rahm, making his season debut, understandably took heart from a performance that would under most circumstances have earned him victory.

"I have every reason to be smiling," Rahm said. "It's a bittersweet moment."

The San Francisco 49ers punched their ticket to the postseason as Ambry Thomas' overtime interception clinched a dramatic comeback win over the Los Angeles Rams.

San Francisco went into the Week 18 clash knowing a win would see them reach the playoffs for the second time in three seasons. A loss would allow the New Orleans Saints, who cruised past the Atlanta Falcons, to sneak in and claim the final Wild Card berth.

The latter outcome looked the more likely when the Rams surged to a 17-0 lead and, even though the Niners got a field goal before half-time, San Francisco still faced an uphill battle.

However, Deebo Samuel scored a touchdown on the ground and then threw another to Jauan Jennings on a trick play to tie things up.

A juggling interception of Jimmy Garoppolo by Jalen Ramsey in the endzone followed by a Matthew Stafford strike to Cooper Kupp put the Rams in a seemingly commanding position at 24-17.

However, Garoppolo - playing with a torn ligament in his right thumb - led a five-play, 88-yard drive that finished with him connecting with Jennings, forced overtime at SoFi Stadium.

The 49ers won the coin toss and a 12-play, 69-yard drive on which Jennings featured heavily set up a Robbie Gould field goal to give San Francisco the lead for the first time.

And it was an advantage they held as Stafford's deep shot for Odell Beckham Jr. was plucked out of the air by rookie cornerback Thomas to set up a mouth-watering Wild Card matchup with the Niners' historic rivals the Dallas Cowboys.

For Los Angeles, it is a sixth successive defeat to the 49ers, though they still won the NFC West after the Seattle Seahawks beat the Arizona Cardinals, whom the Rams will host in the opening round of the playoffs.

Novak Djokovic faced a crunch day as his lawyers fought to win his freedom to play at the Australian Open – but the failure of a live court stream left the world in the dark about what was being disclosed.

Djokovic's case went before Melbourne's Federal Circuit Court on Monday, with the world number one attempting to defeat a deportation order brought by Australia's federal government.

Video footage of proceedings was promised by court officials, with huge global interest in the case, but at the scheduled hearing start time of 10am the website platform had crashed.

With the stream unavailable, the hearing was initially said by court officials to have been delayed, before word came through shortly after 10.30am in Melbourne that it had begun.

Serbian superstar Djokovic secured an injunction against immediate deportation on Thursday and spent the weekend at a detention hotel.

Ahead of the Australian Open, where he has won the men's singles title a record nine times, including last year, Djokovic arrived in the country with what he insisted were the correct documents.

Yet Australian Border Force officials cancelled his visa application, stating Djokovic had "failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements to Australia".

Lawyers for the 34-year-old have since stated the Serbian was granted a temporary activity visa on November 18. Djokovic's legal team said he was granted a medical exemption for the first grand slam of the year after a COVID-19 positive test on December 16, and that he was later given the go-ahead by Australia's Department of Home Affairs to travel.

However, lawyers for the federal government submitted their own court filing on Sunday, disputing Djokovic's right to come to Australia.

"There is no suggestion that the applicant had 'acute major medical illness' in December 2021," said the government filing. "All he has said is that he tested positive for COVID-19. This is not the same."

The government document also stated that, should the hearing ruling go in Djokovic's favour, it must be expressly stated that he could not be re-detained or have his visa cancelled once again. Otherwise, he could be denied entry to the country once more.

The issue has become a political hot topic in Australia, with Djokovic's stance on COVID-19 matters rankling with many, particularly in the state of Victoria, who have faced hard lockdowns during the pandemic.

The case was listed as Novak Djokovic v Minister for Home Affairs. That minister is Karen Andrews; however, the matter has been onee in which prime minister Scott Morrison has also become a central figure, insisting when Djokovic's visa was revoked: "Rules are rules, especially when it comes to our borders. No one is above these rules."

Djokovic has declined to confirm his vaccination status, but by requiring an exemption to compete at Melbourne Park it has been widely assumed he has not been jabbed. The government filing on Sunday stated it was "common ground that the applicant is unvaccinated".

Judge Anthony Kelly turned down a government request to delay the hearing by two days until Wednesday.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said ahead of the hearing that he hoped Djokovic would be cleared to play.

The Jacksonville Jaguars helped the Pittsburgh Steelers virtually secure a playoff place as they stunned the Indianapolis Colts in their regular-season finale.

Indianapolis needed only to beat a two-win Jaguars team to secure their place in the postseason.

History, however, was against Frank Reich's team, the Colts having not won in Jacksonville since the 2014 season.

And the Jags' home hoodoo over the Colts continued as Indianapolis quarterback Carson Wentz imploded in a 26-11 defeat.

Wentz was sacked six times in a game the Jaguars led the entire way, rookie first overall pick Trevor Lawrence throwing multiple touchdowns for the first time since Week 1.

The dagger effectively came when Lawrence capitalised on Wentz's lone interception, the former Philadelphia Eagle picked by Jags linebacker Damien Wilson in the third quarter.

Lawrence then successfully handled a high snap from center, rolled to his right and lofted a three-yard pass to Marvin Jones Jr, who made a leaping grab in the back of the endzone.

The Colts were eliminated from the playoffs after the Steelers beat the Baltimore Ravens in overtime. The Steelers will qualify unless the Los Angeles Chargers' game with the Las Vegas Raiders ends in a tie.

Despite the win, the Jaguars claim the number one pick in the 2022 draft by virtue of the Detroit Lions' win over the Green Bay Packers, who rested players for much of the game.

Titans take one seed

The Kansas City Chiefs kept the pressure on the Titans with their win in Denver on Saturday, but Tennessee did not waste the opportunity to clinch the one seed, though they received a scare from the lowly Houston Texans.

Tennessee surged to a 21-0 lead, only for the Texans to respond with 18 unanswered points of their own. Ryan Tannehill's fourth touchdown pass, on which he hit Julio Jones for the receiver's first touchdown as a Titan, gave them breathing room that proved enough as they hung on for a 28-25 win after Danny Amendola's second touchdown reception frayed the nerves.

Watt ties sack record as Steelers stay alive

Ben Roethlisberger bid a tearful farewell to Heinz Field in the Steelers' home finale on Monday, but his likely final season in the NFL looks like being extended into the Wild Card round.

The Steelers fought back from 10-3 down to lead 13-10 on a Roethlisberger pass to Chase Claypool and, though Justin Tucker's field goal forced overtime, the leg of Chris Boswell had the final say, giving the Steelers a 16-13 victory in a game that saw T.J. Watt tie Michael Strahan's single-season sack record as he took his tally to 22.5.

With Chargers head coach Brandon Staley saying they would not play for a tie that would punch the postseason ticket for them and the Raiders, the Steelers' spot seems virtually assured.

The Denver Broncos have parted company with head coach Vic Fangio, the team announced on Sunday.

Fangio – who had been in position for the last three seasons – achieved a 19-30 record during his time with the franchise, failing to reach the playoffs throughout his tenure.

Denver started this campaign in promising fashion, winning their first three games, and after victory against the Detroit Lions in Week 14, they had a record of 7-6 and were very much in playoff contention.

However, four defeats in a row saw their campaign come off the rails, culminating in Saturday's final game against the Kansas City Chiefs on home soil, which they lost 28-24.

In a statement, Fangio said he was an "honor and privilege" to coach the Broncos and added: "the foundation is in place for this team to achieve great things."

President and CEO Joe Ellis confirmed on Sunday that general manager George Paton will lead the process to find Fangio's replacement.

"This morning, George and I informed Vic of the decision to part ways with him as head coach of the Denver Broncos," Ellis said in a statement. "For the last three seasons, Vic put his heart and soul into coaching the Broncos. I want to thank Coach Fangio for giving his maximum effort to our organization since the day he was hired.

"George will have full authority to select the next head coach of the Broncos. This is his decision and his program. I have complete confidence in George's ability to lead an exhaustive and successful head coaching search."

Paton also stated his gratitude for the work Fangio had done with the Broncos, saying: "I have tremendous respect for Vic and all he's accomplished in the NFL.

"Over the past year, I appreciate his partnership, friendship and the tireless work ethic he demonstrated as our head coach.

"Vic will continue to have great success in this league, and I thank him for everything he did for the Broncos as well as me personally."

The Broncos had not posted a winning record since Fangio was appointed, achieving 7-9 in 2019 and 5-11 in 2020, and have not reached the playoffs since they won Super Bowl 50.

The Australian government has suggested it will block Novak Djokovic's entry into the country even if the world number one wins his appeal against their decision to cancel his visa.

Djokovic, who has not revealed his COVID-19 vaccination status, seemed set to compete in the Australian Open under a medical exemption.

Yet he is currently in an immigration detention hotel awaiting a hearing on Monday, after Australian border forces refused to allow him entry.

Court papers filed by Djokovic's representatives on Saturday stated that the 34-year-old had been given the medical exemption after testing positive for COVID-19 on December 16. 

The Serbian's lawyers also claimed they had an assessment from the Australian Department of Home Affairs which stated that his responses on his Traveller Declaration form met the requirements for quarantine-free travel into Australia.

Australia's government responded by filing court papers of its own on Sunday.

The 13-page document not only challenged the claim that Djokovic had COVID-19 last month, but also indicated the government would still refuse the nine-time Australian Open champion entry into the nation even if the hearing was decided in the player's favour.

The document claimed the government "had not represented to the applicant that his so-called 'medical exemption' would be accepted."

Australia's government also argued that: "There is no suggestion that the applicant had 'acute major medical illness' in December 2021. All he has said is that he tested positive for COVID-19.

"That is not the same. Thus the ATAGI Vaccination Advice uses different terms, such as mere "past infection" and also "symptomatic infection"."

The document goes on to conclude that, should the hearing be ruled in Djokovic's favour, it must be expressly stated that he could not be re-detained or have his visa cancelled once again.

"If this Court were to make orders in the applicant's [Djokovic] favour, it would then be for the respondent [Australian government] to administer the Act in accordance with law.

"That may involve the delegate deciding whether to make another cancellation decision, but there are also other powers in the Act, as the Court would be aware. Or, indeed, no power may be exercised.

"It is sufficient for the Court to quash the decision. From the time those orders are made, the respondent will act on the basis that the applicant's visa has not been cancelled.

"If the Court makes an additional orders for immediate release of the applicant, notwithstanding the above, the respondent submits that the Court should make it expressly clear that that order does not purport to (nor could it) prevent the respondent or any officer of the Commonwealth from exercising any power to detain that might be available to him or her despite the quashing of the delegate's cancellation decision.

"An order for immediate release does not prevent re-detention if there is power to detain."

Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime clinched a maiden ATP Cup crown for Canada with victories over Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta and Roberto Bautista Agut in Sunday's final.

Canada lost their opening four matches of the competition but recovered in style to reach a first final, which they won 2-0 with a couple of commanding straight-sets wins in the singles matches.

Shapovalov saw off Carreno Busta 6-4 6-3 in the opening singles rubber to give Canada, who had to rely on other results to avoid elimination earlier in the tournament, the lead in Sydney.

World number 11 Auger-Aliassime followed that up with a 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 victory against Bautista Agut to give Canada an unassailable 2-0 lead, meaning that there was no need for a doubles decider.

"The emotions are unbelievable. There's no better feeling than winning," Auger-Aliassime, who saved 10 of the 11 break points he faced, said in his on-court interview. "We left everything out there. 

"We came back from far in this competition, losing our first four matches. But we never stopped believing. I think that's very important. We trust each other to the highest level.

"It came down to the perfect result. I'm super thrilled for everybody in the whole team and myself, of course."

Canada become the third nation to have lifted the trophy after Serbia, who beat Spain 2-1 in the 2020 final, and Russia in 2021.

Andy Murray believes Novak Djokovic's situation ahead of the Australian Open does not reflect well on anyone involved, nor the game of tennis in general.

Djokovic is currently in immigration detention at the Park Hotel in Melbourne.

The world number one, who has not revealed his COVID-19 vaccination status, received a medical exemption to feature in the Australian Open, which begins on January 17. He is the reigning champion and has won the tournament nine times.

All competitors at Melbourne Park must either be vaccinated or have a valid medical reason not to have had the vaccine. Australia, and Melbourne in particular, has had strict restrictions in place throughout the pandemic.

However, Djokovic's visa application was rejected by Australian border force officials. The Serbian star will now await the outcome of a hearing, set to take place on Monday, to determine whether he will be allowed to compete or be deported, with the Australian government losing an appeal to delay the hearing.

Murray, a five-time Australian Open finalist, cannot see how the situation looks good for anybody.

"I think everyone is shocked by it to be honest," former world number one Murray, who is preparing himself for the season's first grand slam, told reporters, as quoted by Australian publication The Age.

"I'm going to say two things on it just now. The first thing is that I hope that Novak is OK. I know him well, and I've always had a good relationship with him and I hope that he's OK.

"The second thing I'll say on it, is it's really not good for tennis at all, and I don't think it's good for anyone involved."

 

Four of Murray's five defeats in Australian Open finals came to Djokovic, who the Scot has not had contact with.

"[I need to] wait and hear exactly what the situation is before commenting on it further, because again I don't think it's fair because some of it is speculation," Murray said.

"Some stuff has come out that really doesn't look good, either. I want to hear all the facts first before giving all of my thoughts on it."

Djokovic's lawyers, in their appeal document sent to the court, disclosed that the 34-year-old had tested positive for COVID-19 in December, and it was under these grounds that they sought a medical exemption.

Rafael Nadal said this week that Djokovic could have made life easier for himself by getting vaccinated, or disclosing his vaccine status, and Murray echoed those sentiments.

"It's not for [Nadal] to say what the right thing to do is, but to listen to the experts on those subjects, and I feel the same," Murray added.

"I can accept that young healthy athletes, if you contract coronavirus, are probably going to be OK. But I trust what I'm getting told by the scientists and the doctors.

"It's not about listening to what politicians or government are telling me to do, it's more listening to the doctors and the scientists, and the people that really know about that stuff."

Rafael Nadal saw off Maxime Cressy in straight sets in Sunday's Melbourne Summer Set final to land the 89th singles title of his career.

The world number six, playing in his first tournament in five months due to injury, has now won at least one ATP Tour trophy in every season since 2004 onwards.

American qualifier Cressy more than held his own in a first set that went the distance, though Nadal's quality told as he prevailed 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 at Rod Laver Arena, where Nadal will be hoping to go deep in the season's first grand slam later this month.

Both men held in an entertaining opening set and Cressy led 6-5 in the tie-break, but he squandered his set point and Nadal hit back to grab a foothold on the match.

The 35-year-old, who won the tournament without dropping a single set, recovered from a break down in the second to add yet another trophy to his vast collection.

Nadal, who had not played since August before coming into this tournament and had COVID-19 last month, had not previously captured a title in Australia since 2009 when landing his only Australian Open triumph to date by beating Roger Federer.

And the Spaniard looks in good shape heading into the Australian Open, which may not feature defending champion Novak Djokovic, who is awaiting the outcome of a hearing to determine whether he will be able to compete in Melbourne.

"I feel privileged and a very lucky guy to be here again," Nadal said in his on-court interview.

"I am coming back from some challenging moments in terms of injuries, so I can't be happier. It means a lot to be back and with a trophy in my hands.

"This court has always been very, very special for me. The Rod Laver Arena is very, very special for everyone and it is more special because of you guys. You guys are a great crowd and I can't thank you enough."

Elsewhere on Sunday, Gael Monfils also made a promising start to the 2022 season with a 6-4 6-4 victory over Karen Khachanov in the Adelaide International 1 final.

Khachanov battled past former US Open champion Marin Cilic in the semi-finals, but he fell short of clinching a first title in over three years.

Top seed Monfils held throughout the opening set and found a breakthrough in the 10th game, with the second set following an identical pattern.

The Frenchman did not drop a set all tournament on his way to winning a first trophy since February 2020 in Rotterdam.

Ash Barty defeated Elena Rybakina in straight sets to claim the Adelaide International title, while Simona Halep clinched silverware in Melbourne.

World number one and heavy favourite Barty prevailed 6-3 6-2 against Rybakina to claim the Adelaide title for a second time in three seasons.

The 25-year-old recovered from 40-15 down in the seventh game and went on to immediately earn the only break of the opening set.

Barty did not look back as she held throughout the second set, meaning she went 35 consecutive games without losing serve to conclude the tournament.

After securing a 14th WTA singles title in a little over an hour, Barty now turns focus to next week's Sydney Tennis Classic ahead of beginning her Australian Open campaign.

"I feel good leading up to an Australian Open like I have every year," Barty, who hit 17 winners to 13 unforced errors, said after seeing off Rybakina. 

"Each and every preparation is unique. We take it for what comes and what it is, move on, try and do the best that we can in every opportunity.

"It has absolutely no effect on the way that I prepare or the way I'm thinking leading forward just because it's a Grand Slam. It doesn't change for us."

Halep, one of Barty's likely rivals for the Australian Open crown, also made a bright start to the year by overcoming Veronika Kudermetova in the Melbourne Summer Set 1 final.

The number two seed, who is aiming to put last year's injury-ravaged and trophyless season behind her, came out on top 6-2 6-3.

She recovered from an early break down in the first set and again in the second to make it 23 career titles, and a first since the 2020 Italian Open.

It could easily have been a different story, however, as Kudermetova had three break points to move 3-0 ahead in the second set, but the Russian could not take full advantage.

Amanda Anisimova defeated Aliaksandra Sasnovich at the Melbourne Summer Set 2 final to claim the first WTA title of the season, and her second overall.

Belarusian qualifier Sasnovich hit back in style to take the second set 6-1 after losing the opener 7-5, but Anisimova recovered from a break down to edge the deciding set 6-4.

In doing so, Anisimova became the first American to win a title on Australian soil since Sofia Kenin's Australian Open triumph in 2020.

Novak Djokovic's court appeal will take place on Monday after Australian Department of Home Affairs lawyers lost a bid to delay the timing of the case.

Home Affairs' lawyers applied to the Federation Circuit Court to re-schedule the case by two days from Monday to Wednesday but the application was dismissed by Judge Anthony Kelly.

Delaying the appeal until Wednesday would have been after Tennis Australia's stated deadline for inclusion in the upcoming Australian Open, due to begin on January 17.

Djokovic and his lawyers filed court documents on Saturday stated that the Serbian was granted a temporary activity visa on November 18, having been detained upon arrival in Melbourne.

The world number one's legal team are battling for him to be freed in order to prepare for and participate in the Australian Open in Melbourne.

Australian Border Force officials cancelled his visa application on Thursday, stating Djokovic had "failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements to Australia".

Djokovic had been granted a medical exemption by organisers of the first grand slam of the year, but his fate now hangs in the balance.

Novak Djokovic tested positive for COVID-19 in December and was later given the go-ahead by Australia's Department of Home Affairs to travel to Melbourne, his lawyers said on Saturday.

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