Novak Djokovic would never have gone to Australia had he not been given an exemption, that is according to Vasek Pospisil.
The world No. 1 lost a last-ditch appeal to remain in Australia after a court upheld a decision by the country's immigration minister Alex Hawke to revoke the nine-time Australian Open winner’s visa for a second time.
Djokovic first had his visa cancelled on January 6 after it was judged that he had failed to adequately meet the criteria for a medical exemption, and Pospisil, who Djokovic created the breakaway Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA) with, has hit out at the treatment of the world No. 1 in a social media post on Sunday.
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“Novak would never have gone to Australia if he had not been given an exemption to enter the country by the government (which he did receive; hence Judge Kelly’s initial ruling),” began Pospisil in a tweet.
It had been argued by Djokovic’s lawyers that the decision by the Australian government was “illogical, irrational or unreasonable”. However, a three-judge panel said that the appeal hinged on whether Hawke’s decision was irrational to the point of unlawful and not on “the merits or wisdom of the decision”.
Pospisil added in his tweet that there “was a political agenda” at play, adding that the decision was not Djokovic’s fault.
“He would have skipped the Australian Open and been home with his family and no one would be talking about this mess," Pospisil continued.
"There was a political agenda at play here with the elections coming up which couldn’t be more obvious. This is not his fault. He did not force his way into the country and did not ‘make his own rules’; he was ready to stay home.”
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Djokovic’s plight has dominated the build-up to the tournament and appears to have split opinion amongst the professional ranks with Stefanos Tsitsipas having criticised Djokovic for "playing by his own rules" which made the majority “look like they are all fools."
The 34-year-old Djokovic said in a statement that he was "extremely disappointed" but would co-operate with the decision, adding he would take some time to rest and recuperate before making further comment.
'It’s a bit of a relief for the Australian population'
Speaking from Melbourne, Eurosport tennis expert and former world number seven Barbara Schett has given her verdict following the decision.
"Everyone has been talking about Novak Djokovic for the last couple of weeks. I have been travelling around - I’ve been in Sydney, I’ve been in Adelaide - and even people who aren’t fans of tennis were following this case. It’s come to an end now and it’s a bit of a relief for the Australian population," began Schett.
"Most of them, I have to say, wanted Novak Djokovic to leave the country. The decision has taken a very long time but now everyone can take a breather and they think it was the right thing to do."
"It’s not great for the tournament to lose the tournament number one, a player who has won the Australian Open nine times and who wants to get the 21st Grand Slam title overall. It’s hard to digest for the tournament. Now a lucky loser will go into the place of Novak Djokovic, it’s going to be a big loss for the tournament but there are so many other great players people should and will focus on. I’m sure Djokovic will be back, but not at the moment here in Australia.
"The feeling I got amongst the players - a few of them have been very outspoken - they also thought that it wasn’t the right thing to allow Novak Djokovic into the country unvaccinated.
"I think what every player had in common though was that this has gone on way too long and that there should have been a decision earlier. It is what it is and they are moving on and thinking about their tennis as well. Someone in the men’s draw will have the chance to win the Australian Open and we will have a new champion."
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