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By Richard Pagliaro | Monday, January 10, 2022

 
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Novak Djokovic celebrated a judge reinstating his visa by visiting Melbourne Park—and vowing his intent to defend his Australian Open crown.

Photo credit: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images/ATP Cup Facebook

Novak Djokovic scored his biggest win of the season in a Melbourne courtroom—and celebrated sharing a trip to Melbourne Park.

Federal Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly reinstated Djokovic’s visa, which was revoked after he arrived in Melbourne last week because Australia’s Border Force said he didn’t meet the nation’s medical exemption requirement that all non-citizens must be fully vaccinated to enter.

More: Djokovic Wins Court Case, Released From Detention

The world No. 1 celebrated reinstatement reuniting with his team, including coach Goran Ivanisevic, in a shot taken at Melbourne Park.

The nine-time AO champion thanked supporters on social media and vowed he is committed to defending his AO crown after spending several days in legal limbo at an immigration detention hotel.




"I am pleased and grateful that the judge overturned my visa cancellation," Djokovic posted on Twitter. "Despite all that has happened, I want to stay and try to compete at the Australian Open.

"I remain focused on that. I flew here to play at one of the most important events we have in front of amazing fans."




Djokovic, who has won three straight Australian Open championships, is aiming for a men's record 21st Grand Slam title along with rival Rafael Nadal, who tuned up for the season's first major winning the Melbourne Summer Set 1 title.

While the Serbian superstar says he's all in on this AO, he still confronts questions and could face another major legal hurdle before first ball is struck on January 17th.

Government attorney Christopher Tran told the court Australia’s immigration minister Alex Hawke “will consider whether to exercise a personal power of cancellation" and revoke Djokovic's visa despite the court ruling today.

If Australia’s immigration minister opts to cancel Djokovic’s visa, then he’d not only miss this month’s Australian Open, he could be banned from the nation for three years.

The latest twist in this international imbroglio puts Djokovic in a race for time—and his fate in the hands of the immigration minister.

While it appears Djokovic's legal victory today paves the path for him to play for history at the AO starting next Monday we've seen this case careen to unexpected places since Djokovic was detained by Australia's Border Force at a Melbourne airport.

Though Djokovic has declared his committment to competing in Melbourne
—if he's allowed to stay in the nation of course—he hasn't played a match since Davis Cup last month and hasn't been able to practice during his immigration detention.

Will the 34-year-old Serbian, renowned for his physical fitness, precise preparation and discipline, be able to bounce back physically and emotionally and withstand both the pressure of his record pursuit and quite possibly some adversarial Aussie fans at the major he has dominated?

Only time will tell, but if Djokovic does play as planned the Happy Slam will be a must-see major and could draw its greatest international TV audience in years with fans engaged by the drama and intrigued to see how it all plays out on court.


 

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