Defiant Novak Djokovic to compete at Australian Open after winning legal battle to stay

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 30: Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates after winning set point during his Men's Singles Semifinal match against Roger Federer of Switzerland on day eleven of the 2020 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 30, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)
Novak Djokovic says he plans to compete at the Australian Open (Getty)

Novak Djokovic says he is intent on competing at the Australian Open after he was freed from government detention on Monday.

The 34-year-old, who has been held at a detention hotel since last Wednesday, has already resumed training ahead of the tournament which is due to begin on January 17.

‘I’m pleased and grateful that the judge overturned my visa cancellation. Despite all that has happened, I want to stay and try to compete at the Australian Open,’ Djokovic wrote in a message on social media.

‘I remain focused on that. I flew here to play at one of the most important events we have in front of the amazing fans.

‘For now I cannot say more but THANK YOU all for standing with me through all this and encouraging me to stay strong.’

Djokovic was freed on Monday after an Australian federal judge overturned the government’s initial decision to cancel the 34-year-old’s visa last week.

Tennis’ world No.1 had been detained since last Wednesday after border officials refused his medical exemption which allows him to enter Australia without having the Covid vaccine.

During the court hearing, judge Anthony Kelly asked ‘what more could this man have done?’ to prove his exemption and criticised Australian government officials for not giving Djokovic enough time to provide more evidence before he was detained.

Djokovic, who revealed during his interrogation with border officials that he is not vaccinated but tested positive for Covid in December, could still be deported as Australia’s immigration minister, Alex Hawke, has the ‘personal power’ to revoke the visa at any time, even though a decision was not made after the court’s ruling on Monday.

A spokesperson for Hawke said on Monday evening: ‘Following today’s Federal Court determination on a procedural ground, it remains within Immigration Minister Hawke’s discretion to consider cancelling Mr Djokovic’s visa under his personal power of cancellation within section 133C(3) of the Migration Act.

‘The Minister is currently considering the matter and the process remains ongoing.’

Melbourne police used pepper spray to disperse crowds
Melbourne police used pepper spray to disperse crowds (AP)
Novak Djokovic's supporters marched in the streets after the verdict
Novak Djokovic’s supporters marched in the streets after the verdict (Getty)

After being released from immigration detention on Monday, Djokovic was taken to his lawyer’s office before reports had claimed that the Serb’s father had said his son had been re-arrested by Australian police.

However, the large police presence outside was simply there to control the crowds before Djokovic was transferred to a private location.

Supporters clashed with police after a black car was seen driving away from the office of Djokovic’s legal representatives. Police used pepper spray in order to control the crowds with people becoming increasingly agitated.

Novak Djokovic had been held in this detention hotel since last Wednesday
Novak Djokovic had been held in this detention hotel since last Wednesday (Anadolu Agency via Getty)

Speaking at the family press conference on Monday, Djokovic’s brother, Djordje, revealed that the 20-time Grand Slam winner has already trained following his release.

‘Novak is free, a few moments ago he trained, he was on the tennis court,’ said Djordje Djokovic.

‘He went to Australia to play tennis, he’s at trying to win the Australian Open to get a record he’s been chasing for so many years.’

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