Draw done as Djokovic awaits visa call

Melissa Woods and Anna Harrington |

With no decision on world No.1 Novak Djokovic’s visa status, Australian Open organisers have ploughed ahead and included the top seed in the draw, where he has been slated to play fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic in the opening round.

After the draw in Melbourne was delayed by more than an hour, an announcement on Djokovic’s visa status was expected on Thursday afternoon at a press conference by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Despite a win in court on Monday, the Serbian superstar still faces the prospect of deportation with Immigration Minister Alex Hawke retaining the power to cancel Djokovic’s visa.

However Morrison said it was not his place to comment.

“I refer to Minister Hawke’s most recent statement and that position hasn’t changed,” Morrison said.

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

It’s believed that Hawke has yet to make a call on whether to cancel the Serbian superstar’s entry visa, reserving the right to still do so in the coming days.

With the tournament getting underway Monday, top seed Djokovic was drawn against Kecmanovic, who is ranked world No.78.

 Djokovic has tried to keep it business as usual in his build-up to the Open, where he will bid for a record 21st grand slam title.

The 34-year-old returned to Rod Laver Arena on Thursday afternoon for another training session, which was briefly open to the media.

A large media pack, plus a news helicopter overhead, watched on as Djokovic trained with coach Goran Ivanisevic and Argentinian world No.64 Federico Coria but also took several breaks from the sweltering Melbourne sun.

On Monday, Federal Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly ruled that Djokovic had been given insufficient time to speak to Tennis Australia officials and lawyers before being informed of the intent to cancel his visa.

Hawke’s office said additional information provided by Djokovic’s legal team had pushed back the timeline.

It’s unclear whether there are other legal avenues that Djokovic can pursue if he fails in his bid to remain in the country.

The nine-time titleholder used a recent COVID-19 infection to gain a medical exemption, but was denied entry by Australian Border Force officials and sent to a detention hotel.

Subsequently, Djokovic admitted in a statement on Wednesday he had provided false information on his travel declaration and blamed his agent for the error.

He said he didn’t attend any public events after testing positive but revealed he had conducted a media interview in Serbia while knowingly infected, which he described as an “error of judgement”.