Djokovic's crazy 28,000km bid to salvage Australian Open dream

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·Sports Reporter
·3-min read
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  • Novak Djokovic
    Novak Djokovic
    Serbian tennis player
Novak Djokovic is reportedly considering a drastic plan to compete in the 2022 Australian Open.
Reports have suggested Novak Djokovic could travel back to Serbia, obtain the correct Australian visa, then return to compete in the Australian Open. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Despite being turned away almost immediately after arriving in Australia, there is still talk Novak Djokovic is working towards a Melbourne Park appearance.

The reigning Australian Open champion had his visa cancelled by authorities mid-flight en route to Melbourne, just hours after announcing on social media that he had been granted a medical exemption to enter the country and participate in the grand slam.

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Instead, Djokovic was greeted by Border Force officers upon his arrival at Melbourne's Tullamarine Airport, whereupon he was informed his visa had been cancelled.

The decision by Victorian health authorities and tennis officials to grant the 20-time grand slam champion an exemption, considering Djokovic has long refused to disclose whether he has been vaccinated and previously spoken out against vaccines, sparked outcry among fans.

The widespread fury eventually spurred the federal government into action, however The Age reporter Sam McClure suggesting Australian Open officials believed a return trip was on the cards for Djokovic.

Authorities believe Novak Djokovic can still play in this year’s Australian Open," he wrote on Twitter.  

"He can return home, apply for the correct visa and come back to Aus. Would be one hell of a round trip but the door ain’t shut yet."

Making the 13,700 kilometre journey from Melbourne to Serbia and back again will hardly be the kind of ideal preparation the likes of Djokovic would prefer, particularly since he chafed at the mandatory two-week quarantine players were required to complete on arrival in 2021.

An injunction against the Border Force's decision to cancel Djokovic's visa has already been lodged.

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The 34-year-old's father Srdjan told the Serbian B92 internet portal: "Novak is currently in a room which no one can enter. In front of the room are two policemen."

Djokovic was still awaiting permission to enter the country with his team reportedly having applied for a visa that does not allow for medical exemptions.

The 34-year-old, never a stranger to controversy, has found himself the subject of a major public backlash in Australia after revealing on Tuesday that he'd received the vaccination exemption which allowed him to bid for a record 21st major title.

But amid the storm, tournament director and Tennis Australia (TA) boss Craig Tiley insisted the world No.1 was getting no special treatment and Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the player "would be on the next plane home" if he could not provide the proper evidence for his exemption.

Novak Djokovic has repeatedly refused to disclose his vaccination status, with speculation suggesting the world No.1 has not been vaccinated against Covid-19. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Novak Djokovic has repeatedly refused to disclose his vaccination status, with speculation suggesting the world No.1 has not been vaccinated against Covid-19. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

But Djokovic was embroiled in entry problems as Victoria's Sports Minister Jaala Pulford confirmed the state government did not support his visa application, effectively putting his fate in the hands of the federal government.

The Age newspaper said the federal Border Force had contacted the Victoria state government asking if it would support his application after his team applied for the wrong kind of visa.

Pulford said in a tweet: "The Federal Government has asked if we will support Novak Djokovic's visa application to enter Australia.

"We will not be providing Novak Djokovic with individual visa application support to participate in the 2022 Australian Open Grand Slam."

With agencies

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