The fate of Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open hopes were finally sealed in the early hours of Sunday morning when judges rejected his appeal to stay in Melbourne.
The men’s world number one has been deported after his attempt to overturn his cancelled visa was dismissed.
Djokovic stated he was “extremely disappointed” with the ruling and left the country on a flight to Dubai.
It’s been quite a debacle — starting with the controversial decision to grant the Serbian a medical exemption to enter the country, despite not being vaccinated.
However, Djokovic was detained at Melbourne Airport after border officials found issues with his visa.
The 20-time major winner had his initial appeal to overturn the cancellation of his visa granted, and he was later seen training ahead of what would have been his bid to defend the Australian Open title.
But upon further investigation, judges rejected Djokovic’s appeal and ultimately cancelled his visa, leading to his deportation and an open throne for a new winner of the January Grand Slam.
The saga has consumed the spotlight of the sporting world for weeks and many fellow tennis stars have had their say.
Rafael Nadal and Martina Navrátilová are amongst those who have spoke out against Djokovic’s decision not to be jabbed, whereas the likes of Venus Williams have backed the Serbian despite his vaccination choices.
Garbine Muguruza is another to recently discuss the situation. During a press conference, the Spaniard said she felt the case was “taking too long” and that those competing at the Australian Open “all want to move on.”
The world number three is another player who believes Djokovic should have simply taken the vaccination in order to secure his spot in the competition this month.
“I think that all this could have been avoided like we’ve all done by getting vaccinated and doing all the things we had to do to come here in Australia,” Muguruza said. “Everybody knew very clearly the rules and we just have to follow them, that’s it. I don’t think it’s that difficult.
“It’s a bit of a show what is happening. Sooner or later we all have to get vaccinated so I don’t know why [there is] so much controversy, it’s a show that doesn’t benefit tennis at all.”
Australia imposes some of the strictest Covid-19 rules regarding travel. Up until December 2021, all non-citizens or family members of individuals residing in Australia were prohibited from crossing the border.
The new restrictions were relaxed slightly, but still required all travelling foreigners to provide a full vaccination status before entrance.
“I am vaccinated and I have no problem saying it,” Muguruza continued. “I am vaccinated and happy to do it, I don’t see why you have to do it differently.”
Muguruza has been drawn against 20-year-old Clara Burel of France in the first round of the Australian Open. The Spaniard will be competing for her third Grand Slam title, after previously winning the French Open in 2016 and Wimbledon in 2017.