Novak Djokovic in Australian Open draw but Aussies still to decide whether Serb can play


Novak Djokovic has been drawn against a fellow Serb in the first round of the Australian Open despite no confirmation he will be allowed to defend his title. The world No 1 practised on the Rod Laver Arena today as he waited to see if the Australian Open government will cancel his visa for a second time.

The draw was delayed from 3pm local time until 4.15pm due to a “testing issue” while prime minister Scott Morrison gave no update in his 3.45pm press conference.

“These are personal ministerial powers able to be exercised by (Immigration) Minister (Alex) Hawke and I don’t propose to make any further comment at this time,” he said.

And the nine-time champion was then drawn to play world No 78 Miomir Kecmanovic in his opening match next week.

If Djokovic, who won a court case to stay in Australia on Monday, is banned from playing before the first order of play is announced, he will be replaced at the top of the draw by No 5 seed Andrey Rublev and the seeds will be reshuffled.

Any later, he will be replaced by a lucky loser. There remains the possibility that the world No 1 could start the tournament and then be deported – or at least forbidden to play during further legal action.

Djokovic’s conduct is now under investigation in three countries after he admitted to breaking social distancing rules in Serbia and then entered Spain without quarantining despite being unvaccinated.

Australian authorities are again considering revoking his visa after he incorrectly ticked “no” on a travel declaration form asking if he had travelled in the 14 days before leaving for Australia.

He had gone from Serbia to Spain in that time and Djokovic has admitted the mistake was “human error” by his agent.

In his press conference, Morrison stood by his country’s strict border rules when pressed further on whether it was safe to allow an unvaccinated non-citizen into Australia.

The PM said: “Where fully vaccinated eligible visa holders could travel to Australia without needing to apply for a travel exemption and enter those states, allowing them to enter quarantine-free, the individual has to show they are double vaccinated or must provide acceptable proof that they can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons.

“That’s the policy, which hasn’t changed.

“That is the policy and we would expect authorities to be implementing the policy of the government when it comes to those matters.”

Tournament referee Wayne McKewen said that the draw was delayed for 75 minutes because of a “testing issue” involving “someone else”.

British players were handed tough draws. Emma Raducanu will face 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens – and also has Simona Halep and Garbine Muguruza in her section. Heather Watson will face Egypt’s Mayar Sherif.

Andy Murray will face a quick re-match with Nikoloz Basilashvili – the world No 22 he beat in three gruelling sets in Sydney last night.

British No 1 Cam Norrie faces American Seb Korda and in-form Dan Evans takes on David Goffin.


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