Freed Djokovic back on Rod Laver Arena

Glenn Moore |

Novak Djokovic family spoke after his release from immigration detention as the player practiced.
Novak Djokovic family spoke after his release from immigration detention as the player practiced.

Within hours of being released from the Park Hotel Novak Djokovic appears to have headed for Rod Laver Arena to have a practice session in preparation for his Australian Open title defence.

Tweeting a photograph of himself and his team on the complex’s main court he wrote on the social media site: ‘I’m pleased and grateful that the Judge overturned my visa cancellation. Despite all that has happened, I want to stay and try to compete @AustralianOpen. I remain focused on that. I flew here to play at one of the most important events we have in front of the amazing fans.

For now I cannot say more but THANK YOU all for standing with me through all this and encouraging me to stay strong.’

The post was followed by several prayer emojis.

Given the timing of his release and the post (after midnight) the world No.1 would appear to have been granted late night access to the court to loosen his limbs and reacquaint himself with his tennis racket after nearly a week’ in the immigration hotel.

In Serbia his family gave a press conference during which his mother said, “This is his biggest win in his career, it is bigger than any grand slams.” 

Dijana Djokovic also said her son “was subjected to torture, to harassment. We will hear even more about what he has gone through”. 

Brother Djordje Djokovic said: “He went to Australia to play tennis, to try and win the Open and win the record he has been chasing for so many years.”

He added: “We love Australia, Novak loves Australia, he’s won it so many times, we will keep on coming back,” he adds.

Former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli told the BBC she thought Djokovic would be physically ready to compete at the Australian Open, which starts on 17 January, but he may be mentally drained after the events of the past few days.

“I think he can work his way through the first week and build his momentum towards the second week, it’s more how mentally and psychologically he will be affected by all of this,” she said.

“He is really his best when he is under pressure and in tougher circumstances, but it is more about how the crowd are going to react.

“If he has the whole stadium against him booing or whatever. How much is that going to affect him? It’s really hard to tell in advance.”

Djokovic was released after Federal Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly quashed the decision to block his entry  into Australia. The judge said Djokovic was given insufficient time to speak to Tennis Australian officials and lawyers to respond to being told of the intent to cancel his visa.

However, a spokesman for Alex Hawke , the Immigration Minister, said he was considering using his broad discretionary powers he is given by Australia’s Migration Act to again revoke Djokovic’s visa.