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Australian Open 2022: ATP breaks silence over Novak Djokovic's visa row; calls it damaging on all fronts

World No.1 tennis player Novak Djokovic was released from Australian immigration detention on Monday (January 10) after winning a court challenge to revive his bid to win a record 21st Grand Slam men's title at the Australian Open 2022.

tennis Australian Open 2022 ATP breaks silence over Novak Djokovic visa row calls it damaging on all fronts
Melbourne, First Published Jan 11, 2022, 10:26 AM IST
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Following Novak Djokovic's victory over the Australian government in the visa row, the ATP has called the series of events leading to the court battle to have been damaging on all fronts. In Melbourne, a federal court on Monday overturned the World No.1 men's tennis player's visa cancellation on COVID-19 health grounds, ending the unvaccinated Djokovic's detention in an immigration hotel and potentially clearing the way for the Serbian to defend his Australian Open title. However, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke could still ruin Djokovic's bid to participate in the first Grand Slam of the year if he chooses to exercise his power to cancel the Serb's visa.

The government body for men's tennis, ATP, said that it sympathised with Novak Djokovic and Australia's people and emphasised that it did everything possible to head off potential problems for players entering the country to play for the Australian Open 2022 that starts on January 17.

In a statement released, the ATP said that it fully respects the Australian public's sacrifices since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and the stringent immigration policies that have been put in place.

As for Novak Djokovic, the ATP added that it was clear that the Australian Open defending champion believed he had been granted a necessary medical exemption to comply with entry regulations. "The series of events leading to Monday's court hearing has been damaging on all fronts, including for Djokovic's well-being and preparation for the Australian Open," the ATP remarked.

Also read: Novak Djokovic wins Australia visa case: Of fans, family, justice, love for tennis and hope

Stating that medical exemptions are made independently of the governing body, the ATP added, "However we have been in constant contact with Tennis Australia to seek clarity throughout this process."

Hinting that the World No.1 tennis player could have avoided this drama, the ATP said that the governing body continues to strongly recommend COVID-19 vaccination for all players on the ATP tour. Believing that immunisation is essential for the sport to navigate the pandemic, the governing body added, "We are encouraged that 97 per cent of the Top 100 players are vaccinated leading into this year's Australian Open."

Novak Djokovic is a nine-time Australian Open champion. He is the defending champion and has won the last three titles at Melbourne Park. He has 20 Grand Slam singles titles, a men's record he shares with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Will the World No.1 create history at the Australian Open 2022? Time will tell, but fans will hope that eventually, the love for tennis triumphs.

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