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Novak Djokovic fighting Aussie ban, in isolation until legal appeal is heard on Monday

Novak Djokovic’s lawyers are filing a visa appeal on his behalf. EPA-EFE/YOAN VALAT

By Ricky Dimon

Novak Djokovic will still be in Melbourne next Monday. Now the question is: will he still be in Melbourne the Monday after that?

Djokovic was initially scheduled to be deported out of Australia on Thursday after he was denied entry upon his arrival at the Melbourne airport on Wednesday night. The nine-time Australian Open champion failed to provide a valid excuse for being unvaccinated, and there was also a mixup with his visa application. Djokovic’s visa was promptly canceled by Australian authorities.

“Mr Djokovic’s visa has been cancelled,” prime minister Scott Morrison tweeted on Thursday morning. “Rules are rules, especially when it comes to our borders. No one is above these rules. Our strong border policies have been critical to Australia having one of the lowest death rates in the world from COVID, we are continuing to be vigilant.”

“The advice that I have literally just received before joining you is that the visa for Novak Djokovic has been canceled,” health minister Greg Hunt said at a news conference. “It’s a matter for him whether he wishes to appeal that, but if a visa is canceled somebody will have to leave the country.”

Djokovic is, in fact, appealing. His legal team will file an injunction to allow the world No. 1 to stay in Australia and compete in the season’s first Grand Slam — which begins on Jan. 17. The hearing in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia has been adjourned until Monday, Jan. 10 as Djokovic’s team prepares the necessary paperwork.

Thinking he was good to go for the Aussie Open after receiving a medical exemption from tournament officials earlier this week, Djokovic flew to Melbourne along with the rest of his team. Government officials, however, had other ideas.

Following a full night of unsuccessful negotiations at the Melbourne airport on Wednesday, 34-year-old Serb was transported to the Park Hotel — which is being used as an immigration detention center. He will remain there until Monday’s legal proceedings.

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.