MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Novak Djokovic faced more time in detention, another court hearing and needed to avoid deportation over the weekend just to have a chance of defending his Australian Open title.
The obstacles kept mounting for the nine-time Australian Open champion after his visa was revoked Friday for a second time since he arrived in Melbourne on Jan. 5.
As hard-to-believe a story as there's been in the run-up to any Grand Slam tournament keeps adding twists and turns and shows no sign of allowing any actual tennis stealing the attention: Djokovic is still hoping to contest the Australian Open despite not having been vaccinated for COVID-19.
But Immigration Minister Alex Hawke used his ministerial discretion to cancel the 34-year-old Serb's visa on public interest grounds — announcing it at around 6 p.m. — only three days before play is set to begin in the first major tournament of the year.
Three hours later, Djokovic's lawyers began their appeal in an after-hours hearing in front of the same judge who ruled in favor of the 20-time major champion last week on procedural grounds after his visa was first canceled after he landed at a Melbourne airport.