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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Australian draw delayed; Novak to face fellow Serbian

MELBOURNE, Australia – Novak Djokovic now knows that if he is allowed to play, he will face fellow Serbian Miomir Kekmanovic in the first round of his Australian Open title defense.

Djokovic’s visa status attracted attention until a draw was held on Thursday to determine the bracket for the men’s and women’s singles draws at the first major tennis tournament of 2022.

And after this.

Australian immigration ministers are still considering whether to deport the nine-time and defending Australian Open champion, who has not been vaccinated against COVID-19.

So Djokovic is in limbo.

Top-ranked Djokovic had his visa revoked upon arrival in Melbourne last week after his vaccination exemptions were questioned, but he won a legal battle on procedural grounds that allowed him to remain in the country.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has been considering the question since Djokovic’s visa was reinstated on Monday.

Djokovic, 34, has been trying to concentrate on the playing court for the four days since his release from immigration detention. He held a practice session at Rod Laver Arena, his fourth mid-afternoon this week.

If he is allowed to stay, Djokovic’s bid for a men’s record 21st major title could mean a quarterfinal against seventh-seeded Matteo Berrettini and possibly a semifinal against Rafael Nadal or third-seeded Alexander Zverev, both of whom will play the lead. are in the lower part. half of the draw.

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On the women’s side, top-ranked Ash Barty and defending champion Naomi Osaka finished in the same section of the draw, meaning the two best players of the tournament could meet in a fourth-round match that has the spirit of the final.

Osaka, who is ranked high as No. 1, slipped down the list due to lack of matches in 2021 and is seeded 13th.

Thursday’s Australian Open draw was delayed amid uncertainty over Djokovic’s visa status.

It was scheduled to be held in Melbourne at 3 p.m. local time, but a tournament official told Wait Media that the ceremony had been postponed until further notice and declined further comment.

It was later rescheduled to 4:15 pm local time.

The Australian Open starts on Monday. Djokovic traveled to Australia to win his 21st Grand Slam title, breaking the men’s record of 20 shared with Roger Federer and Nadal.


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