Tennis body's telling shot at Australia in Novak Djokovic call

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Novak Djokovic is pictured here giving a fist pump during a tennis match in 2021.
The ATP has thrown its support behind the decision to overturn Novak Djokovic's visa cancellation. Pic: Getty

The governing body of men's tennis has thrown its support behind Novak Djokovic after labelling his dramatic visa saga "damaging on all fronts".

On Monday evening, the World No.1 went for a late-night hit at Rod Laver Arena after a judge overturned the federal government's decision to cancel Djokovic's visa and send him home.

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It seemingly ended a dramatic soap opera that looked like seeing the 34-year-old deported after his vaccination exemption to enter Australia was deemed insufficient.

The unvaccinated tennis star was released after being confined to an immigration hotel for four nights, in a drama that has gripped the world.

The judge ruled the the 20-time major winner had not been given enough time to speak to his lawyers before the decision was made to cancel his visa and ordered the government to release him from the Melbourne quarantine hotel where he was being held.

The ATP issued a statement on Tuesday welcoming the court ruling that quashed the decision to block Djokovic's entry into Australia.

"In travelling to Melbourne, it's clear Novak Djokovic believed he had been granted a necessary medical exemption in order to comply with entry regulations," the ATP said.

"The series of events leading to Monday's court hearing have been damaging on all fronts, including for Novak's well-being and preparation for the Australian Open."

The governing body says while it understands Australia's strict Covid-19 policies and the desire to protect the community, it took aim at the obvious lack of clarity and communication that precipitated the Djokovic debacle.

"The ATP fully respects the sacrifices the people of Australia have made since the onset of Covid-19 and the stringent immigration policies that have been put in place," it said.

"Complications in recent days related to player entry into Australia have however highlighted the need for clearer understanding, communication and application of the rules."

Novak Djokovic had a hit at Rod Laver Arena after being freed from immigration detention on Monday evening. Pic: Twitter/Getty
Novak Djokovic had a hit at Rod Laver Arena after being freed from immigration detention on Monday evening. Pic: Twitter/Getty

The ATP again urged its players to get vaccinated against Covid-19, with around 97 percent of its professional players jabbed.

Within hours of being released from immigration detention on Monday evening, Djokovic headed to Rod Laver Arena for a practice session in preparation for his planned Australian Open title defence and quest for a 10th title.

Tweeting a photograph of himself and his team on Melbourne Park's main court Djokovic wrote: "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 'biggest win' of Novak Djokovic's career

Rafael Nadal, who is tied with Djokovic and Roger Federer on a record 20 grand slam titles, called the controversy "a circus" and said he supported the decision to allow his great rival to play in the Open.

"Whether or not I agree with Djokovic on some things, justice has spoken and has said that he has the right to participate in the Australian Open and I think it is the fairest decision to do so, if it has been resolved that way.

"I wish him the best of luck," Nadal told Spanish radio Onda Cero.

Pictured left, Novak Djokovic shakes hands with Rafael Nadal at the 2021 French Open.
Rafael Nadal (R) says justice has been served after a judge overturned the decision to send Novak Djokovic home from Australia. Pic: Getty

However, nine-time Open champion Djokovic is still not certain of competing.

A spokesman for Immigration Minister Alex Hawke told AAP he is "currently considering" whether there are still grounds to cancel the tennis star's visa and "the process remains ongoing".

Soon after Djokovic finished his practice in Melbourne his family gave a press conference in Serbia during which his mother, according to the BBC translator, said her son "was subjected to torture, to harassment. We will hear even more about what he has gone through".

Dijana Djokovic also said: "This is his biggest win in his career, it is bigger than any grand slams."

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."

"We love Australia, Novak loves Australia, he's won it so many times, we will keep on coming back".

with AAP

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