Novak Djokovic was deported from Australia after losing an appeal for his visa cancellation. Djokovic was the top seed for the Australian Open, which started today. He’s the three-time defending champion and has won this grand slam event a record nine times.
Djokovic won’t be able to defend his title, and the tournament had to find a replacement to fill his bracket slot. Now, four unlikely players have a chance at walking away with at least $155,000 for winning the first round in Melbourne.
Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic, who was originally scheduled to face his fellow countryman in the opening round Monday, will now face Italy’s Salvatore Caruso, who was the runner-up in the men’s singles qualifying tournament.
The winner of that match will advance to the second round to face the winner of unseeded American Tommy Paul and unseeded Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan. Of the four players who could possibly meet in the second round, Tommy Paul is the highest-ranked player in the world at No. 41, according to the tournament’s website.
Here are the men’s singles ranks of the four players in this mini bracket:
No. 41 Tommy Paul (USA) vs. No. 180 Mikhail Kukushkin (Kazakhstan)
No. 78 Miomir Kecmanovic (Serbia) vs. No. 150 Salvatore Caruso (Italy)
Salvatore Caruso is dubbed the “Lucky Loser” for backing into the tournament with Djokovic’s abrupt departure. Caruso is guaranteed at least $103,000 (in Australian currency) even if he loses in the first round. That’s a little more than $74,000 just for making the first round and losing.
The two players who make it to the second round are guaranteed $154,000 (A$) even if they lose in that round, which equates to $111,000 in U.S. currency.
One of these four players will make it to the third round. The loser in that round will receive $221,000 in Australian currency, which comes to $159,352 when converted to the U.S. dollar.
This would be a nice windfall for one of these four players who could have only hoped to beat Djokovic, the world’s top player, in either the first or second round. Djokovic’s departure from the tournament opened the door for these guys who were deemed an easy path for the No. 1 seed.
The third round might not be so bad, either, as there is only one seeded player—No. 25 Lorenzo Sonego of Italy—who might advance.
Djokovic lost a court decision Sunday in Australia just one day before he was to take the court to solidify himself as the best in his game’s history. Novak Djokovic had an appeal for his canceled visa rejected.
Here’s what transpired to get to this point.
Djokovic landed at an airport in Australia a week and a half ago to get ready for the 2022 Australian Open, but a snafu with his visa application led to him being held in a police-guarded room for about 12 hours, and with Aussie authorities saying the tennis champ would likely be deported for not having required vaccination to be in the country.
The government declared Djokovic a health risk since he hasn’t been vaccinated for the COVID-19 coronavirus. Djokovic said he had a medical exemption that had been approved and would allow him to play.
Last week, after a lengthy hearing in Melbourne, a judge overturned the visa cancellation. Then, Australia Immigration Minister Alex Hawke used his power to cancel Djokovic’s visa. This had to go before another hearing on the eve of the first grand slam tournament of the year.
Hawke said he issued the second cancellation for “health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so.”
“In making this decision I carefully considered information provided to me by the Department of Home Affairs, the Australian Border Force and Mr Djokovic,” Hawke said in a statement. “The [Australia Prime Minister Scott] Morrison Government is firmly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Australian Open, which is the first of the four grand slam tennis tournaments, got underway Monday orning in Melbourne (Sunday evening in the U.S). The other grand slam events are the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.