Novak Djokovic is included in the Australian Open draw despite his visa saga with the Australian immigration department.
According to the Associated Press, Djokovic will face his fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round of the defending champion’s Australian Open title defense, if he is allowed to play.
The Serbian’s visa status dominated attention until the moment the draw was conducted Thursday, after a postponement of 75 minutes, to determine the brackets for the men’s and women’s singles draws at the first major tennis tournament of 2022.
Djokovic’s participation in the tennis tournament is still in limbo as the Australian immigration minister was still considering whether to deport the nine-time and defending Australian Open champion, who is not vaccinated against COVID-19.
The draw ceremony was delayed amid uncertainty over Djokovic’s visa status.
Top-ranked Djokovic had his visa cancelled on arrival in Melbourne last week when his vaccination exemption was rejected, but he won a legal battle on procedural grounds that allowed him to stay in the country.
Alex Hawke, the immigration minister has been considering the question since a judge reinstated Djokovic’s visa last Monday. The tournament starts next Monday.
If he is allowed to stay, Djokovic’s bid for a men’s record 21st major title could mean a quarterfinal against No. 7-ranked Matteo Berrettini and possibly a semi-final against Rafael Nadal or third-seeded Alexander Zverev.
The Australian Open defending champion is tied with Nadal and Roger Federer on 20 Grand Slam titles, missing a chance for the all-time record when he lost the U.S. Open final to Daniil Medvedev last year.
According to the 2022 Grand Slam Rule Book, if Djokovic is forced to pull out of the tournament before the order of play for Day 1 is announced, No. 5 seed Rublev would move into his spot in the bracket.
If Djokovic withdraws from the tournament after Monday’s schedule is released, he would be replaced in the field by what is known as a “lucky loser” a player who loses in the qualifying tournament but gets into the main draw because of another player’s exit before the competition has started.
And if Djokovic plays in a match or more and then is told he can no longer participate in the tournament, his next opponent would simply advance to the following round and there would be no replacement.