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How will the Djokovic situation impact the Australian Open?
Friday, 01/14/2022
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Screen Shot 2022-01-14 at 9.53.00 AM.jpg
by Nathan Auty

The saga rumbles on. The tennis world was stunned by the news that World No. 1 Novak Djokovic had to be detained by Melbourne immigration authorities last week - and further developments have cast doubt over the defense of his title in the 2022 Australian Open which starts on January 17.

‘Nole’ - as the Serbian is known - had his visa revoked following an eight-hour standoff with airport border authorities concerning his ‘vaccine exemption’. Cue a five-day stint in hotel quarantine whilst his legal team put a defense case in front of the courts.

Now free to concentrate on his tennis, taking in a practice session at Rod Laver arena, Djokovic is planning to do his talking on the court. However Australia's immigration minister still has powers to re-cancel the visa and deport the unvaccinated player.

If that happens then the competition will be blown wide open.

So what happened?
The World No. 1 had already been very vocal in his opposition to mandatory vaccination. He flew to Australia with a vaccine exemption but was denied entry into the country after nine hours at the airport. 

The Serb's visa was cancelled due to it not being one that allows for medical exemptions - he was moved to hotel quarantine and his team launched an appeal.

Four days later Judge Anthony Kelly from the Federal Circuit Court of Australia threw out the visa cancellation and ordered the Australian Government to pay legal costs and release Djokovic immediately.

Now further information has come to light of Djokovic attending public events in Serbia and Spain in December, despite his claims that his exemption from the vaccination was due to having tested positive for COVID-19. 

The timeline of events…
  • January 4 - Djokovic says he has an 'exemption permission' to travel to Australia.
  • January 5 - Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says Djokovic must provide "acceptable proof" that his exemption is legitimate.
  • The local government of Victoria announces they will not support Djokovic's visa application.
  • He arrives at Melbourne Airport around 11.30pm.
  • January 6 - At around 3.15am, Djokovic's father reports that his son is being held at Melbourne Airport.
  • At 5am, coach Goran Ivanisevic posts an image on social media waiting for the world No 1’s release.
  • Around 8.15am local time, Australia Border Force deny Djokovic's visa.
  • Djokovic is moved to a hotel while his legal team launches an appeal.
  • January 7 - Australia Home Affairs Minister says Djokovic is "free to leave any time."
  • Djokovic thanks his fans for their support with a post on Instagram.
  • January 8 - Djokovic's lawyers claim a positive Covid-19 test in December as a legitimate reason behind Djokovic not being vaccinated.
  • January 9 - Australian government lawyers say Djokovic was never guaranteed to enter the country with his medical exemption.
  • January 10 – Djokovic wins his appeal and the Judge orders the Australian Government to pay legal costs and release him from detention.
  • Djokovic posts online his intention to compete at the Australian Open.
  • January 11 - News breaks of Djokovic having attended public tennis events in Serbia and Spain in December.
  • Politicians in Australia and Serbia, and tennis stars including Andy Murray, have their say regarding apparent clear breaches of the rules for positive Covid cases.
What may happen next?
Djokovic has never publicly announced his vaccinated status, but has criticised mandates ruling that players must be double-jabbed. However, the court released a transcript of Djokovic's interview with Border Force, during which he confirmed that he is not  vaccinated.

And the latest news of his attendance at public events at the time he would have been required to isolate has generated a further storm - aiding Australian authorities’ case to send him back out of the country ahead of the tournament.

Border officials are currently investigating whether his travel entry form included a false declaration stating that he had not travelled in the 14 days before arriving in Australia. They could still decide to deport the champion. 

If the unthinkable was to happen it could open the door for a new Australian Open champion…

Who could take the crown?
Two emerging challengers who have both had strong 2021 seasons will be keeping a close eye on proceedings in the Australian judicial courts to see whether their path to glory has been cleared on the tennis courts.

Daniil Medvedev (odds of 13/10) and Alexander Zverev (12/5) have both already proven they can push the defending champion all the way - and even beat him. Veteran Rafael Nadal has already criticized Djokovic for getting himself into this situation and will hope his recent return to action can deliver another Grand Slam success, and his odds are around 9/5.

If this storm blows over and he is allowed to defend his crown, Djokovic is currently the favourite to win the tournament as he aims to clinch a men's record 21st Grand Slam. He can be found at 13/10 - the same price as Medvedev but with the caveat of actually competing in the tournament! 

You can review the odds for the Australian Open and other professional Tennis events at Twinspires sportsbook. The above odds may look different by the time the tournament begins, when it will be known whether or not the world No. 1 will take part.

Tennis is one of the most popular live betting markets in the world for its opportunities to bet on live play and also upcoming matches and tournaments. With all of the potential swings it's a great sport to trade, both for beginners and experienced bettors.

The Australian Open begins on Monday 17 January and the final takes place on 30 January.
Selected 2022 Australian Open Men's odds:
  • Novak Djokovic 13/10
  • Daniil Medvedev 13/10
  • Alexander Zverev 12/5
  • Rafael Nadal 9/1
  • Stefanos Tsitsipas 16/1
  • Jannik Sinner 17/1
  • Andrey Rublev 25/1
  • Matteo Berrettini 30/1
  • Carlos Alcaraz 35/1
  • Nick Kyrgios 80/1
  • Andy Murray 80/1
  • Sam Querrey 150/1

by Nathan Auty