Wednesday, January 26, 2022
Home Game Djokovic saga 'not a good situation' says Murray

Djokovic saga ‘not a good situation’ says Murray

By Chris De Silva and Emily Patterson

Andy Murray has shown sympathy towards long-time rival Novak Djokovic, saying the world No.1’s second visa cancellation is “not a good situation” for the game.

The tennis world was rocked by Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s decision to cancel Djokovic’s visa for the second time in a matter of weeks, with the call coming just minutes before 6pm AEDT on Friday evening.

Djokovic’s camp is set to appeal the ruling, with the hearing that will determine the reigning Australian Open champion’s fortunes to be held on Sunday.

READ MORE: How the Australian Open moves forward without Novak

If Djokovic is successful in overturning his visa cancellation, he will be required to take to the court the next day, with the Australian Open confirming the top halves of the men’s and women’s draws would be played on Monday.

Andy Murray expressed sympathy for his long-time rival Novak Djokovic’s plight on Friday (Getty)

Djokovic is currently slated to face fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic in the opening round.

Murray, who has come up against Djokovic in numerous Grand Slam finals, touched on the world No.1’s predicament after advancing to his first ATP Tour final since 2019.

“I’m not going to sit here and start kicking Novak while he’s down,” he said.

“I said it the other day, it’s not a good situation for anyone. It’s unfortunate that it’s ended up in this sort of situation, and who knows?

Defending men’s champion Serbia’s Novak Djokovic rests during a practice session on Margaret Court Arena ahead of the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. AP Photo/Mark Baker) (AP)

“I don’t know what the process is from now. I don’t know what route he goes down, if he can appeal that, and how long it takes, and can he be practicing while that process is going on or still competing in the tournament?

“Just want it obviously to get resolved. I think it would be good for everyone if that was the case.

“It just seems like it’s dragged on for quite a long time now, and yeah, not great for the tennis, not great for the Australian Open, not great for Novak. Obviously a lot of people have criticised obviously the government here as well.”

Murray’s comments followed reaction that was swift and widespread reaction on social media in the wake of Mr Hawke’s bombshell decision.

Mr Hawke cited “health and goods order grounds” for re-cancelling the world No.1’s visa, stating “it was in the public interest to do so”.

Djokovic was initially refused entry into Australia over queries around his medical exemption, however the matter was settled in court on Monday with a judge overturning the Australian government’s decision to cancel his visa.

Djokovic may be barred from returning to Australia for three years following the decision, as confirmed in court when the possibility of the minister cancelling Djokovic’s visa was raised and such a ban could occur.

However, the Australian Government could use its discretion to not apply that ban to the tennis star.

Djokovic hits practice courts early

Australian Open organisers are yet to officially remove Djokovic from the men’s singles draw, holding onto hope that the nine-time champion will still be able to compete.

Following Mr Hawke’s decision, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison also released a statement on the seemingly never-ending saga, backing the Immigration Minister’s call.

“Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected,” Mr Morrison’s statement read, in part.

“This is what the Minister is doing in taking this action today.”

Below is Mr Morrison’s full statement in response to the Immigration Minister’s call.

While there were some segments of the public, particularly in Australia, that celebrated the Immigration Minister’s ruling, others were less than impressed.

Mr Hawke’s verdict came through in the early hours of the morning in Belgrade, and as expected, the reaction was not kind.

Djokovic’s former coach and mentor, Niki Pilic, described the situation as “shameful” and said the world No.1 was being treated like a “criminal.”

“People do not understand what it means to be a world champion, what kind of strength, will and morale is needed,” Pilic said.

READ MORE: Doomsday Djokovic scenario shot down by leading reporter

READ MORE: Star’s ‘regret’ at ‘confusing’ Djokovic drama

“It’s not the end of the world if he doesn’t play the Australian Open … he will play at other tournaments.”

Nebojsa Covic, a former politician and now the owner of the Red Star Belgrade basketball club, the team Djokovic is a notable supporter of, said the controversy has made Djokovic “a symbol of the free world” no matter what happens.

“He is a global star, a beacon of free men. Basic human rights are being violated,” Covic told Prva TV. “Djokovic is the moral winner of the tournament in Australia.”

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