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Djokovic on Course to Play Australian Open With Victory in Court, but Controversy Continues and Deportation Remains Possible

Members of the Serbian community march in Melbourne, Australia, 10 January 2022. Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic was to be released from an immigration detention center in Melbourne after an order by the Federal Circuit Court. The tennis world number one had been staying in a hotel-turned-detention center after his visa was revoked upon landing in Australia. EPA-EFE/JAMES ROSS AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT

By Ricky Dimon

Novak Djokovic is free to play the Australian Open.

For now.

The world No. 1, whose Australian visa was canceled by government authorities when he arrived at the Melbourne airport last Thursday night, won his appeal to have it reinstated on Monday afternoon. Federal Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly made the decision following hours and hours of testimony that begin at 10:00 am.

Optimism surrounding Djokovic’s case grew when Kelly — very early in the proceedings — stated, “The point I’m somewhat agitated about is, what more could this man have done?”

Well, getting vaccinated is one thing he could have done.

Instead, Djokovic appears to have fabricated a positive Covid-19 test on December 16 — hoping that would allow him to eventually be granted entry into Australia and participate in the season’s first Grand Slam. If Djokovic’s December 16 test really was positive, then he made multiple public appearances in Serbia in the following days — unmasked — despite knowing he was infected. Either scenario, of course, is a PR disaster.

Djokovic receives his own Serbian stamp on Dec 17th after testing positive for Covid-19. His Novak Foundation announced a partnership with the Serbian National Postal Service on a project for every child to have the opportunity to attend preschool.

As such, controversy continues to rage Down Under. And the 34-year-old Serb is not out of the woods when it comes to his status for the Aussie Open. Government lawyer Christopher Tran told Kelly in the aftermath of Monday’s ruling that the minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services, and Multicultural Affairs “will consider whether to exercise a personal power of cancellation.” Alex Hawke was expected to make that decision later on Monday, but it is now delayed. Hawke has the capability of canceling Djokovic’s visa a second time, which result in deportation and an automatic three-year ban from the country.

Hoping to make that possibility less likely, Djokovic immediately went to Melbourne Park upon his release from the Park Hotel detention center to announce himself in Australia and stake claim to his right to be there.

“Despite all that has happened, I want to stay and try to compete @AustralianOpen I remain focused on that,” the nine-time Aussie Open champion posted on social media. “I flew here to play at one of the most important events we have in front of the amazing fans.”

Djokovic’s ordeal began when he flew to Melbourne last week after getting a medical exemption from Tennis Australia to play in the tournament despite being unvaccinated. Upon arrival, however, Djokovic found out that there was a miscommunication–or no communication–between Tennis Australia and the Victorian government. Just because he was allowed to play a tennis tournament didn’t mean he was allowed to enter the country.

Four days in detention later, he is free to do both.

For now.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.