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Australian Open: Tennis Australia ‘deeply regrets’ impact of Novak Djokovic saga

Novak Djokovic during practice
Djokovic is a nine-time winner of the Australian Open
Dates:17-30 January Venue: Melbourne Park
Coverage: Daily radio commentaries on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC Sport website and app, with selected live text commentaries online; TV highlights from middle Saturday.

Tennis Australia said it “deeply regrets” the impact the Novak Djokovic deportation saga had on players at the Australian Open.

The tournament organisers acknowledged there were “lessons to learn”.

World number one Djokovic, who has not had a Covid-19 vaccine, was deported from Australia on Sunday after losing a last-ditch court bid to stay.

Tennis Australia said it respected the court’s decision and hoped the focus could now switch to the tennis court.

“As the Australian tennis family, we recognise that recent events have been a significant distraction for everyone,” read a statement.

“There are always lessons to learn and we will review all aspects of our preparation and implementation to inform our planning – as we do every year.”

Serb Djokovic, 34, was granted a medical exemption to enter Australia by two independent health panels – one commissioned by Tennis Australia, the other by the state government of Victoria – after testing positive for coronavirus in mid-December.

However, the Australian Border Force detained the 20-time Grand Slam winner on 5 January for not meeting federal coronavirus requirements, and his visa was revoked.

A judge overturned that decision, but the government stepped in on Friday to revoke the visa again, saying it was in the public interest.

Men’s tennis governing body ATP called the saga a “deeply regrettable series of events”, while former British number one Andy Murray said the situation was “not good” for anyone.

After Djokovic’s first detention, Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley told Australian television he hoped the player could play at the opening Grand Slam of the year. Tiley has declined to comment publicly since.

Despite pressure growing on Tiley, Tennis Australia said: “The board and member associations commend the Tennis Australia CEO and the entire Tennis Australia team for their hard work and dedication to delivering a spectacular summer of tennis.”

Djokovic was greeted by supporters when he arrived home in Serbia on Monday but his plans remain unclear.

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