Despite the uncertainty surrounding his participation at the upcoming Australian Open, Novak Djokovic has been listed as the men’s No. 1 seed by tournament organizers.
On Monday, a judge quashed the Australian government’s decision to cancel Djokovic’s visa and ordered him to be freed from a temporary immigration detention facility in Melbourne.
However, the unvaccinated world No. 1 may still face deportation as Australia’s immigration minister considers stepping in to remove the tennis player from the country.
Djokovic comes into this year’s Australian Open with the chance to separate himself from long-time rivals Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in the race to be considered the greatest player of all time.
All three are each currently on 20 grand slam titles and with Federer not competing this year due to knee surgery and Nadal still playing his way back into form after time out with an injury, Djokovic would be the heavy favorite to win the title in 2022.
Russian Daniil Medvedev – Djokovic’s conqueror in last year’s US Open final – is seeded second, with Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev seeded third, fourth and fifth respectively.
Nadal is seeded sixth but will come into the Australian Open with increased confidence after winning the Melbourne Summer Set title last week.
‘Damaging on all fronts’
The ATP Tour weighed in on Djokovic’s ordeal for the first time since the 34-year-old was detained by the Australian government last Wednesday.
The men’s professional tennis tour called the series of events leading up to Djokovic’s Monday visa hearing “damaging on all fronts” – including to the athlete’s well-being, according to a statement from the association on Monday.
The ATP Tour also strongly recommended vaccination for all players on the ATP Tour, calling it “essential for our sport to navigate the pandemic.” It added that 97% of the top 100 players are vaccinated heading into this year’s Australian Open.
“The ATP fully respects the sacrifices the people of Australia have made since the onset of COVID-19 and the stringent immigration policies that have been put in place,” the statement read.
“Complications in recent days related to player entry into Australia have however highlighted the need for clearer understanding, communication and application of the rules.
“In travelling to Melbourne, it’s clear Novak Djokovic believed he had been granted a necessary medical exemption in order to comply with entry regulations. The series of events leading to Monday’s court hearing have been damaging on all fronts, including for Novak’s well-being and preparation for the Australian Open.”
Investigation into travel declaration
Meanwhile, the Australian Border Force (ABF) is investigating whether Djokovic submitted a false travel declaration ahead of arrival in Australia, a source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN.
Djokovic declared he had not traveled and would not do so in the 14 days leading to his arrival in Australia on Wednesday, January 5, according to a travel declaration submitted as evidence to the court determining whether he would be allowed to remain in Australia.
Various pictures taken during that two-week period appear to show Djokovic in both Spain and Serbia.
While court documents show that Tennis Australia filled out the travel declaration on Djokovic’s behalf, the information used was provided by Djokovic, an ABF officer at Melbourne airport on January 5 determined.
The penalty for submitting a false travel declaration carries a maximum penalty of 12 months in prison, according to the Australian Department of Home Affairs website.
Djokovic’s media team has not responded to CNN’s requests for comment.
The ABF investigation comes as Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke considers whether to exert his personal power to cancel Djokovic’s reinstated visa.