In my mind, no interval of time has been more closely associated with the coronavirus than “10 days.” For a long time, before the CDC changed its mind late last month, that was the required isolation period for someone with a positive case, and so I have been ready to quarantine for a week and three days at a moment’s notice over the last two years. It’s fitting, then, that telekinesis devotee Novak Djokovic’s scuffle with the Australian legal system ahead of the Australian Open lasted for that long, and no longer. After 10 days that featured an incorrect visa, an airport detainment, potential lies in court down under, and a course reversal courtesy of the country’s Immigration Minister, Djokovic has left the continent.
When last we checked in on the Serbian cyborg, he was appealing the decision by Alex Hawke to deport him before he could attempt to extend his record nine Open wins. Hawke had chosen to deny Djokovic’s stay in Australia due to concerns about “the public interest,” which meant that the country—one of the world’s strictest during the pandemic with regards to international travel and entry—simply did not want an unvaccinated and incorrectly documented tennis player running around Melbourne for a month.
Djokovic’s appeal of Hawke’s decision went to Australian Federal Court in expedited fashion, with the tournament set to start on Monday. The three judges on the court came to a decision a mere seven hours after the case was brought to them, and the news was not good for the world number one:
Though an appeal to the High Court was possible, Djokovic chose instead to call it a day and hop on a plane to Dubai. In a statement, the Serbian said he was “extremely disappointed” in the ruling, though he would respect it.
Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic also weighed in on the decision, calling it a “farce” and saying that the Australian government humiliated itself:
So ends a saga that will continue to overshadow the first Grand Slam of 2022. In Djokovic’s place, so-called Lucky Loser Salvatore Caruso will enter the field as the designated top-seed, as announced by the Open in a statement:
The Australian Open, sans Djokovic, begins on Monday.