Novak Djokovic still in Australian Open, all anyone talks about

Novak Djokovic nonetheless in Australian Open, all anybody talks about | Tennis Information


Simply keep tuned.

As hard-to-believe a narrative as there’s been within the run-up to any Grand Slam event retains including twists and turns and reveals no signal of permitting any precise tennis stealing the eye: Defending champion Novak Djokovic is hoping to play on the Australian Open regardless of not having been vaccinated for COVID-19.

The newest holdup has to do with an anticipated determination from the nation’s immigration minister on Djokovic’s back-and-forth standing. Even then it may return to a court docket — of the authorized selection, naturally.

“Medical exemption” and “inoculation” and “visa” have dominated the dialog associated to Melbourne Park as the beginning of the yr’s first Grand Slam event approaches on Monday (Sunday within the U.S.).

As of Thursday evening, there nonetheless was no decision, though Djokovic’s title was on the high of the boys’s bracket, together with his No. 1 seeding intact, on account of face one other Serbian, Miomir Kecmanovic, within the first spherical.

That’s if Djokovic is allowed to play, in fact.

Often, his placement in the identical half of the draw as Rafael Nadal — each gamers are vying for a twenty first main title, to interrupt a document they share with Roger Federer — would seize headlines.

A possible semifinal between two of the greats of the sport may even have grabbed as a lot discover as a doable fourth-round contest between top-ranked Ash Barty and defending champion Naomi Osaka within the girls’s draw.

However tennis matches have been of secondary curiosity since Djokovic flew into Melbourne simply earlier than midnight on Jan. 5.

Following 4 nights confined to an immigration detention resort after his exemption to Australia’s strict COVID-19 vaccination guidelines was rejected and his visa was canceled, Djokovic gained a court docket struggle on procedural grounds Monday that allowed him to remain and play.

Ever since, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has been contemplating whether or not to revoke the visa once more. A call looms.

Djokovic’s court docket paperwork mentioned he examined constructive for the coronavirus final month, grounds that he and Australian Open organizers thought would qualify for an exemption to the everyone-must-be-vaccinated guidelines.

The federal authorities disagreed.

Whereas he awaits the ultimate name, Djokovic has been training at Rod Laver Enviornment to shake off the sensation of confinement.

Nadal warmed up with a title in a tuneup event final week in Melbourne, the place he famous that Djokovic may have averted all of the drama with two photographs of an accepted vaccine.

At a sponsor’s occasion Thursday at Melbourne Park, Nadal contained his feedback to his personal return from an prolonged layoff and the difficulties he is encountered through the pandemic.

“Difficult occasions just like the final six months is hard mentally, and particularly later in your profession,” he mentioned.

“However I nonetheless have the fervour and the love for what I’m doing.”

Requested once more about Djokovic’s scenario, Nadal smiled and responded: “Sorry, I’ve to go and apply.”

That is turn into a little bit of a theme. Australian Open event director Craig Tiley refused to reply questions on Djokovic at that sponsorship occasion and the draw.

Andy Murray, whose relationship with Djokovic dates to their days as juniors, had simply gained his first match in Australia in additional than 1,000 days when he was requested this week concerning the visa saga.

“That is the place the conditions like this are irritating for gamers, as a result of I wish to come off and discuss my tennis, not speaking about conditions like that,” Murray mentioned. “I’m hoping that we are able to transfer on from it now.”

Wishful considering.

Djokovic’s anti-vaccine stance makes him a polarizing determine in a rustic the place coronavirus instances are surging regardless of greater than 90% of the eligible inhabitants being vaccinated for COVID-19, and in a metropolis the place residents spent greater than 260 days in lockdowns through the pandemic.

Djokovic missed an opportunity for a twenty first main when he misplaced the U.S. Open closing to Daniil Medvedev final yr.

Medvedev, who additionally ended Djokovic’s run at a calendar-year Grand Slam, is the No. 2 seed in Australia.

The 2021 Australian Open runner-up has native favourite Nick Kyrgios, No. 5 Andrey Rublev, No. 9 Felix Auger-Aliassime, and John Isner in his quarter of the draw and will meet No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas within the semifinals.

Both Barty or Osaka cannot make it that far, after ending up in a troublesome part that offers their fourth-round match the texture of a closing.

The winner may meet No. 5 Maria Sakkari or No. 9 Ons Jabeur within the quarterfinals.

French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova can also be in the identical half of the draw, together with 2020 champion Sofia Kenin and Coco Gauff.

Second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka, No. 3 Garbiñe Muguruza, two-time main winner Simona Halep and U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu, who opens in opposition to 2017 U.S. Open winner Sloane Stephens, are on the other half of the draw.

Barty, determined to finish an Australian Open title drought for Aussie girls that stretches again to 1978, had a win on the Adelaide Worldwide final weekend earlier than skipping a Sydney event and heading on to Melbourne.

Former No. 1-ranked Osaka is coming in comparatively contemporary, after taking a pair of psychological well being breaks in 2021.

After profitable final yr’s Australian Open for her fourth Grand Slam title, she withdrew earlier than the second spherical of the French Open and skipped Wimbledon. After taking one other hiatus after the U.S. Open, she slid within the rankings and is seeded thirteenth.

“Truthfully, I nonetheless gained a Slam final yr, so I don’t contemplate it that unhealthy,” Osaka mentioned. “I really feel like every time I come right here, or come again right here in the beginning of the yr, it’s like a breath of contemporary air.”

This story has been revealed from a wire company feed with out modifications to the textual content.

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