Barty to play qualifier in Open opener

Darren Walton |

Ash Barty will play a yet-to-be-known qualifier in the first round of the Australian Open starting on Monday.

The world No.1 will bid to end the host country’s 44-year Open singles title drought when the season’s first grand slam finally gets under way after a tumultuous build-up.

The top seed was pitted against the qualifier at Thursday’s much-anticipated draw, which was delayed by more than an hour.

The draw was to have taken place at 3pm local time before an announcement was made over the PA that it had been “postponed until further notice”.

Officials later said it would be held at 4.15pm.

No reason was given for the delay but growing uncertainty over world No.1 Novak Djokovic’s participation in the event was one potential reason.

Djokovic is awaiting the Australian government’s decision over whether or not it would cancel the nine-times champion’s visa.

Despite winning a court case against the Australian Border Force in the Federal Circuit Court on Monday, the Serbian superstar still faces the prospect of deportation.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has the jurisdiction to overrule the court ruling and revoke the nine-times champion’s visa over an allegedly illegal entry to Australia.