Novak Djokovic drawn against Miomir Kecmanovic in Australian Open – despite no official decision on whether he can play


Novak Djokovic has been drawn against fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic in the Australian Open despite no decision being made over whether he is allowed to compete.

The men’s tennis world number one had his visa cancelled on arrival in Melbourne last week when his COVID-19 vaccination exemption was questioned.

But he won a court appeal against the cancellation that allowed him to remain in the country.

The Australian government is still looking at whether he can stay – a decision that is entirely at the discretion of Australia’s Immigration Minister Alex Hawke.

Despite this, the Australian Open, which begins on Monday, has continued to include him in the line-up after naming him as the top seed.

If Djokovic is given the go-ahead to compete, he will have a chance to win a record 21st major title.

If he is forced out of the tournament ahead of Monday’s order of play being announced, the seeds will be shuffled around, with fifth seed Andrey Rublev taking the Serbian tennis star’s place.

If it happens after that time but before the first-round match, Djokovic will be replaced by a lucky loser from qualifying.

The draw, to determine the men’s and women’s singles brackets at the year’s first tennis major, was scheduled to be held at 3pm local time in Melbourne but was delayed.

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‘This is not over yet’, says Djokovic’s mum

Who will play who?

In the draw, Rafael Nadal was placed in the same half as Djokovic, meaning they could meet in the semi-finals.

World number three Alexander Zverev was also in the top half, with second seed and US Open champion Daniil Medvedev in the bottom half.

Spain's Rafael Nadal hits a backhand during a practice session on Rod Laver Arena ahead of the Australian Open at Melbourne Pack, Australia, Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022.  (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
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Spain’s Rafael Nadal has been placed in the same half as Djokovic. Pic: AP

Andy Murray’s return will come against 21st seed Nikoloz Basilashvili, who he beat in Sydney on Wednesday.

British seeds Cameron Norrie and Dan Evans were given tough draws, with 12th seed Norrie facing rising young American Sebastian Korda and Evans taking on former top 10 star David Goffin.

In the women’s competition, 17th seed Emma Raducanu was drawn against a former New York champion Sloane Stephens.

Defending champion Naomi Osaka will play young Colombian Camila Osorio and could meet top seed Ashleigh Barty in the fourth round.

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Drone video of Djokovic training

Djokovic still practising

This morning, Djokovic has been out practising on Rod Laver Arena inside Melbourne Park, the venue for the Australian Open.

Pictures in recent days have shown him on the court surrounded by members of his team.

It comes after he admitted his agent made a mistake on his entry form to Australia when he did not reveal he had travelled from Serbia to Spain ahead of his journey to Australia.

According to Spanish media reports, Djokovic, who has a training base in Marbella, is now being investigated over entering the country without the correct visa for an unvaccinated person.

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In a lengthy statement, he also apologised for meeting with a French journalist for a face-to-face interview and a photoshoot after testing positive for COVID-19.

He has maintained his intention to compete at the Australian Open throughout the controversy, writing in his statement: “It is always an honour and a privilege to play.

“I just want to have the opportunity to compete against the best players in the world and perform before one of the best crowds in the world,” he said.

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Novak Djokovic vaccine controversy explained

He may face a hostile crowd if allowed to play

However, he may face hostility from the crowd if and when he walks out on the court, with widespread anger over the saga among Australians.

The country has a 90% COVID vaccination rate among adults and is battling a wave of the Omicron variant after enduring some of the world’s longest lockdowns.

Tennis great Martina Navratilova told Australian television Djokovic should “suck it up” and return home.

“The bottom line is, sometimes your personal beliefs have to be trumped by what’s good for the greater good, for those around you, for your peers,” she told Seven’s Sunrise programme.

“You have two choices, get vaccinated or just don’t go play.”



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