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Djokovic Loses Visa Battle • Departs Australia

Novak Djokovic has just departed from Australia after losing a last-ditch court bid to stay in the country.

Judges rejected a challenge launched by the unvaccinated tennis star after the government canceled his visa on “health and good order” grounds.

The world number one’s hopes of defending his Australian Open title and winning a record 21st Grand Slam in Melbourne are over.

Djokovic said he was “extremely disappointed” but accepted the ruling.

“I will co-operate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country,” he said in a statement. He departed Australia at 10:30 p.m. local time (6:30 a.m. ET) Sunday on an Emirates flight.

His supporters fell silent outside the courtroom as the decision was announced on the eve of Djokovic’s opening match in the tournament. One fan told the BBC that her summer would be “empty” without the 34-year-old playing at the Open.

Supporters of Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic listen to the court decision being handed down via a live stream outside Djokovic’s lawyers office in Melbourne, Australia, 16 January 2022. Djokovic lost court appeal against deportation from Australia and will not be able to defend his Australian Open title in Melbourne. EPA-EFE/JAMES ROSS

The ATP has described the decision to uphold the cancellation of Novak Djokovic’s visa as “the end of a deeply regrettable series of events” and said his absence from the Australian Open is “a loss for the game.”

The new order of play inserts Salvatore Caruso in place of Djokovic. The Italian will face Serbian player Miomir Kecmanović.

Third seed Alexander Zverev will now move to the center court slot previously occupied by Djokovic. He plays Daniel Altmaier.