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Australian Open • Closed: Djokovic out of Season’s First Grand Slam and Deported from Country

Nine-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic lost his visa appeal and was deported from Australia on Sunday, ending his run of three straight AO championships. EPA-EFE/DAVE HUNT AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT

By Ricky Dimon

Novak Djokovic is out of the Australian Open.

And out of Australia.

Djokovic was deported on Sunday night after he lost his final appeal to reverse the court’s decision to cancel his visa. The world No. 1 was in the draw for this year’s first Grand Slam when the ceremony was held Thursday and the ultimate verdict did not even come in until after Monday’s schedule of play was released at 4:00 pm on Sunday — on which he was scheduled for the last match in Rod Laver Arena. He was replaced at the top of the bracket by lucky loser Salvatore Caruso.

Had Djokovic’s forced exit come a few hours earlier prior to the Day 1 order of play being issued, the draw would have been rearranged. No. 5 seed Andrey Rublev would have moved into Djokovic’s spot, No. 17 Gael Monfils would have replaced Rublev, and Alexander Bublik would have become the No. 33 seed in Monfils’ previous position.

Instead, the top half of the draw is suddenly far more open than it was on Sunday morning.

Djokovic won’t be around first-hand to see how it plays out.

“I am extremely disappointed with the Court ruling to dismiss my application for judicial review of the Minister’s decision to cancel my visa, which means I cannot stay in Australia and participate in the Australian Open,” Djokovic stated prior to leaving. “I respect the Court’s ruling and I will cooperate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country.”

Novak Djokovic and coach Goran Ivanisevic are escorted to a private plane out of Australia ending the deportation process.

Tennis Australia, which certainly hasn’t heard the end of this controversy, released the following: “Tennis Australia respects the decision of the Federal Court. As per Grand Slam rules the No.1 position in the draw has been filled by a Lucky Loser. The updated schedule for Monday 17 January can be viewed here. We look forward to a competitive and exciting Australian Open 2022 and wish all players the best of luck.”

As the tournament begins, an unprecedented 10-day saga ends. It began when Djokovic–who is unvaccinated–flew to Melbourne last Thursday after Tennis Australia granted him a medical exemption. Long story short: his visa was immediately canceled upon arrival, he spent four days in detention at the Park Hotel, a first appeal was successful, his visa was canceled again a few days later, and Sunday’s appeal was unsuccessful.

The 34-year-old Serb would have been bidding for a 10th Australian Open title and 21st Grand Slam. Now–with Roger Federer also sidelined–it is Rafael Nadal who has the only chance to reach 21 this month.

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