Australian Open thrown into chaos as Novak Djokovic faces Sunday court hearing after government cancels visa again

The Novak Djokovic deportation debacle threw the Australian Open into chaos on Friday after the visa he used to enter Australia was cancelled again just three days before the tournament.

The world number one was facing another courtroom showdown with the Australian government on the eve of his first match at the year’s first grand slam following Friday’s decision by the country’s immigration minister.

Alex Hawke’s ruling also saw Djokovic facing another night in a detention facility ahead of his hearing, leaving his plans to prepare for what he hoped would be a record 21st major title in tatters.

But it also threw plans for the tournament into disarray, with organisers confirming his first-round match would take place on its opening day.

Sunday’s hearing – at 9.30am in Melbourne (10.30pm on Saturday in the UK) – at least looked to settle the matter once and for all, with seemingly no more scope for further appeals to secure Djokovic’s release in time to begin the defence of his crown.

But the fallout from the case was certain to overshadow the tournament completely, with Djokovic’s entry into Australia without being vaccinated against coronavirus having split the public and the sport.

Sir Andy Murray, a long-time friend and rival of Djokovic, said the Serb had to accept the “consequences” of refusing to get jabbed.

“Ultimately, people have to make their own choices,” said the two-time Wimbledon champion. “But there are also consequences sometimes for those decisions, as well.”

The Scot, who announced he received his booster before flying to Australia himself, added: “The lady who gave me my third jab, she works in the hospital in Central London, and she told me that every single person that is in ICU [intensive care unit] and on ventilators are all people that are unvaccinated.

“I’m not going to sit here and start kicking Novak whilst he’s down. Obviously, a lot of people have criticised the government here, as well. It’s not been good.”

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