Novak Djokovic receives ‘uncomfortable reception’ from Australian Open stars in practice

Novak Djokovic 'won't win Australian Open' says Bowers

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It was an ‘uncomfortable’ practice session for Novak Djokovic in Melbourne on Tuesday as he tried to prepare as normal for the Australian Open. Having had his visa revoked and been transferred to a Government detention hotel, the Serbian seemingly got the reprieve he needed on Monday when a court ruling upheld his appeal against being deported.

However, despite the world no 1 then taking to social media to insist he was now focussed on the Grand Slam tournament, the saga is far from over with the final decision now resting with Australian immigration minister Adam Hawke.

He has the power to cancel Djokovic’s visa for a second time, with his decision expected to be announced on Wednesday.

Furthermore, allegations have now emerged that the 34-year-old filled in his immigration form incorrectly, and if deemed to have deliberately lied to border force officials, he could yet be in danger of a jail term.

Regardless, Djokovic took to the practice courts today in a behind-closed-doors session at the Rod Laver Arena, with tournament organisers closing the doors to the public and cutting the live stream of the court.

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However, Tennis Australia did later release video footage of Djokovic practicing with coach Goran Ivanisevic, prior to the star heading indoors for a gym session.

The saga has proved divisive among his fellow players, with Rafael Nadal arguing the top seed could have “played here without problems” – whilst Daniil Medvedev has backed his rival over his prolonged refusal to reveal his vaccination status.

During the session, New York Times tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg tweeted a source from the player area apparently saying “[Djokovic] came to the gym before his hit. The place went silent with everyone staring. Talk about uncomfortable.”

He followed that up with “Not that Djokovic has no support from players, of course, but it’s an awkward vibe here.

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“Venus Williams, who filmed pro-vaccination PSAs, sent well-wishes and emojis on Instagram from back in the US (her current ranking did not qualify her for the Australian Open).”

Rothenberg is a highly respected journalist in tennis circles, with more than 113.9k followers on Twitter, but the account was contested by world no 220 Sergiy Stakhovsky.

“Total bs .. was warming up for my match in the same gym. Find better gossipers,” he responded.

Djokovic is in Australia aiming to make history as he seeks an unprecedented 21st Grand Slam title, with his current record-equalling total matched by Nadal and Roger Federer.

The current uncertainty over his participation has proved frustrating for organisers, who want the issue sorted out imminently so they can conduct the tournament draw.

Djokovic has won the Melbourne event nine times, and was a clear favourite with the bookies prior to his visa being revoked.

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