Nick Kyrgios ‘embarrassed’ by Australia’s handling of the Novak Djokovic deportation saga

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Nick Kyrgios ‘embarrassed’ by Australia’s handling of the Novak Djokovic deportation saga
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  • Novak Djokovic
    Novak Djokovic
    Serbian tennis player
  • Nick Kyrgios
    Australian tennis player

Nick Kyrgios has described Australia’s handling of the Novak Djokovic saga as embarrassing, as uncertainty continues over the world No1’s participation at the Australian Open.

Djokovic had been held in a detention hotel before a judge ruled yesterday that immigration officers were wrong to halt him from entering into the country.

That visa could yet be revoked by Australia’s immigration minister, but Kyrgios, who last week tested positive for Covid and whose own participation in the tournament is in doubt, said: “We know that the media like to create s***-storms with my story and everything going on with Novak.

“I feel quite embarrassed as an Australian athlete who’s seen what this guy has done for us and for the sport. I just don’t think it’s right how we’re handling it.”

Djokovic, who had practised at midnight Melbourne time yesterday after his release, was back on court at the Rod Laver Arena this afternoon as he bids to prepare for his title defence.

Meanwhile, the ATP said in a statement that the ongoing row had been “damaging on all fronts” and called on the remaining players, Djokovic included, to get vaccinated.

“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,” it said. “We welcome the outcome of Monday’s hearing and look forward to an exciting few weeks of tennis ahead.

“More broadly, ATP continues to strongly recommend vaccination for all players on the tour, which we believe is essential for our sport to navigate the pandemic.

“This is based on scientific evidence supporting the health benefits provided and to comply with global travel regulations, which we anticipate will become stricter over time. We are encouraged that 97 per cent of the top 100 players are vaccinated leading into this year’s Australian Open.”

Australia immigration minister Alex Hawke could yet personally revoke Djokovic’s visa, despite yesterday’s judgement.

A spokesperson for Hawke today said: “As noted yesterday in the Federal Circuit and Family Court, minister Hawke is considering whether to cancel Mr Djokovic’s visa under section 133C(3) of the Migration Act.

“In line with due process, minister Hawke will thoroughly consider the matter. As the issue is ongoing, for legal reasons it is inappropriate to comment further.”

Part of the issue being considered is a report that Djokovic lied on his travel entry form saying he had not been to another country bar Serbia in the last 14 days.

Djokovic had been pictured training in Spain at the start of the year, although he is believed to have told border officials that form had been completed by Tennis Australia.

Djokovic’s former coach Boris Becker warned the Serbian was in danger of being booed throughout the duration of the tournament.

“I’m sure there will be a couple of boos and whistles, but he’s used to that,” Becker told the BBC. “He was always a street-fighter who had to fight the odds and win over the crowd, and it was fascinating in last year’s US Open Final when they finally embraced him.

“The crowd will be difficult with him, but with each match he starts, he will win the crowd and they will embrace him again. But he is going to have a difficult first week.”

Djokovic has received support from the likes of Rafael Nadal to play in the tournament and there has been limited negativity from his fellow peers.

But Wimbledon quarter-finalist Marton Fucsovics said: “People’s health is paramount, and there are rules that were outlined months ago, namely that everyone should vaccinate themselves — and Djokovic didn’t. From this point of view, I don’t think he would have the right to be here.”

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