Australian Open: Djokovic fate hinges on Sunday full-court hearing

By Sports Desk January 15, 2022

Novak Djokovic was back in detention on Saturday night as he awaited decision day in his battle to play at the Australian Open.

The end of the saga should come on Sunday when Djokovic's lawyers attempt to prevent the Serbian being deported.

A procedural hearing, where the matter was formally transferred from the Federal Circuit Court to the Federal Court of Australia, saw an 09:30 AEDT (Saturday 22:30 GMT) start to the case agreed upon.

Djokovic's lawyers secured an early procedural victory when it was decided the case should be heard by a full court, consisting of Chief Justice James Allsop, Justice Anthony Besanko and Justice David O’Callaghan.

That reduces the avenues for any possible appeal against the court's decision. Stephen Lloyd, who was appearing on behalf of immigration minister Alex Hawke, had indicated his preference for a single judge.

A central tenet of the case is set to be Hawke's assertion that Djokovic should be removed from the country "on health and good order grounds" and "in the public interest".

In submissions to the court issued by Djokovic's lawyers, Hawke is shown to say that he accepted the world number one recently tested positive for COVID-19.

However, Hawke adds that: "I am concerned that his presence in Australia, given his well-known stance on vaccination, creates a risk of strengthening the anti-vaccination sentiment of a minority of the Australian community."

The nine-time Australian Open champion's visa was revoked for a second time on Friday despite Djokovic winning his initial case on Monday.

His lawyers will dispute the minister's claims and push for Djokovic to be freed from detention to be able to defend his title at Melbourne Park.

In their application to the court, Djokovic's legal team state: "There was no evidence before the respondent that Mr Djokovic had made any comments about his vaccination status or expressed any 'views' regarding vaccination at any time during which he has been in Australia (on this occasion or previous occasions) or at any other time in any other location (post April 2020)."

For Djokovic, lawyer Nick Wood said on Friday that his client was of "negligible risk", "of good standing" and had a medical contraindication to a vaccine.

The Australian Open starts on Monday, when Djokovic hopes to begin his journey to what could be a 10th Melbourne slam and a record-breaking 21st major title.

Djokovic is scheduled to face countryman Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round.

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    Angelique Kerber overcame Kaja Juvan in an epic Internationaux de Strasbourg final, with all three sets going to tie-breaks.

    The two played for three hours and 16 minutes on Saturday – the longest WTA final of the year – with Kerber eventually sealing it 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (0-7) 7-6 (7-5) to win her first clay court trophy in over six years.

    In their only previous meeting in 2020, Juvan upset the former world number one at the French Open, and the 21-year-old gave Kerber another scare here.

    There were three breaks of serve each in the first set, with neither able to take control, before the German edged the first of the trio of tie-breaks.

    Juvan and Kerber exchanged two breaks each in the second, though it was the Slovenian who was finding more opportunities, forcing the number two seed to save eight further break points across the set, before dominating the second breaker.

    Neither was able to pull away in the third, with Kerber breaking early, before Juvan hit right back. It felt inevitable that the third set would follow the first two in going to a tie-break, and so it proved.

    Kerber finally put her determined opponent away and paid tribute to the world number 81 in her maiden WTA final during her on-court interview, saying: "Well done Kaja, you played a great week and also a tough final... I wish you all the best in Paris [the French Open] so good luck there."

    In the final of the Morocco Open, Martina Trevisan eased to her first WTA title at the expense of Claire Liu in just over 90 minutes.

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    Trevisan dedicated the win to her father, saying: "I would like to dedicate this trophy to my dad. He can't see me in this moment but I know he would be very proud of me. He is a fighter like me during this week, but during his whole life - so this is for you, dad."

  • Ruud awakens to retain Geneva Open title, Norrie wins in Lyon Ruud awakens to retain Geneva Open title, Norrie wins in Lyon

    Casper Ruud retained his Geneva Open title with a hard-fought defeat of Joao Sousa on Saturday.

    Ruud had to dig deep in the deciding set, breaking Sousa when the Portuguese was serving for the title at 5-4, before going on to win 7-6 (7-3) 4-6 7-6 (7-1).

    The world number nine has now won six of his last seven ATP 250 events on clay, and is the first player since Stan Wawrinka (2016 and 2017) to win more than one Geneva Open title.

    Ruud served five aces in the first set on his way to edging a tie-break, but a determined Sousa was able to level in a second set in which he won eight of 11 second-service points.

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    The Norwegian made the semi-finals at the Internazionali d'Italia last week and maintained his momentum ahead of the French Open by lifting the trophy in Switzerland.

    "It was one of the craziest matches that I have ever played," he said in his on-court interview. "It was a lot of up and down. Sousa was close to winning and then suddenly everything turns around and this is tennis.

    "This win feels so good, but you have to give a lot of credit to Joao because he fought back from one set down and has been playing well all week.

    "It was just a matter of one or two points today and luckily they went in my favour."

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    The top seed could have won in straight sets, but was unable to convert two match points in the second before being forced to a decider by Molcan.

    It is Norrie's second ATP title of the season and the fourth of his career. It is his first on clay as he prepares for the second grand slam of the year at Roland Garros.

    "It is my first title on the clay so it means a lot to me," Norrie said. "I can't be happier with how I handled everything this week. This one feels the best so far. I don't know why, it is just so special and I couldn't be happier and am really speechless right now. It was an incredible atmosphere. Thanks to everyone for coming out.

    "I had chances to close the matches in straight sets this week and get it done easier than usual and it didn't go that way and I was able to let that go and respond. In the third set I moved really well and it is nice to get over the line."

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