Novak Djokovic learns Australian Open draw fate as he awaits deportation verdict

Novak Djokovic is slated to begin the defence of his Australian Open title against Miomir Kecmanovic following Thursday’s draw.

The world No.1’s participation, however, still hangs in the balance amid reports that immigration minister Alex Hawke is building a case to deport the 34-year-old, less than a week after he won an appeal to have his visa reinstated.

Djokovic stepped up his preparations ahead of his bid to win a record 21st grand slam title by training on Rod Laver Arena on Thursday afternoon ahead of the draw which was dramatically postponed by over an hour.

And while the Serbian’s fate still hangs in the balance, for now, at least, he will begin his campaign against his compatriot Kecmanovic with Hawke and the Australian government yet to come to a final decision.

Having been given the green light to compete, fresh doubts over Djokovic’s eligibility for a medical exemption surfaced over the weekend after it emerged false information had been entered on his travel declaration form.

Djokovic also admitted to making an ‘error of judgement’ in a lengthy statement posted on social media after pictures emerged of him attending an awards ceremony and a subsequent interview after he had tested positive for Covid-19.

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Speaking ahead of the rescheduled draw, prime minister Scott Morrison confirmed during a press briefing: ‘I will refer to Mr Hawke’s most recent statement – that position hasn’t changed.

‘These are personal ministerial powers able to be exercised by Minister Hawke and I don’t propose to make any further comment at this time.’

In the women’s draw, meanwhile, world No.1 and top seed Ash Barty will face a qualifier in the first round. The Australian could face defending champion Naomi Osaka in the fourth round.

Brtiain’s Emma Raducanu, who has recently recovered from a bout of covid, will begin her first grand slam campaign since her US Open triumph against America’s Sloane Stephens.

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