Djokovic included in Australian Open draw (for now) after mysterious delay, crowds set to be capped

The draw for the 2022 Australian Open was delayed as Tennis Australia continues to wait for the federal government to make its ruling on Novak Djokovic’s eligibility.

The draw was scheduled to be released shortly after 3pm on Thursday, January 13, but a live stream which began at that time was quickly ended.

Novak Djokovic was eventually confirmed as No.1 seed and if he’s still in the country next week he’ll take on countryman Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round.

The continued uncertainty over world number one Djokovic’s participation could force major changes to the draw if he is ruled out after its completion.

Should immigration minister Alex Hawke decide to cancel Djokovic’s visa, as has been reported, the status of the men’s singles draw will obviously change.

If Djokovic is barred before the order of play for Day 1 of the tournament is confirmed, which is expected to take place over the weekend, number five seed Andrey Rublev will fill Djokovic’s vacated slot, while 17th seed Gael Monfils will replace Rublev and Bublik step into Monfils’ position.

However, if the news comes any later than that, Djokovic will either be replaced by a lucky loser – the highest-ranked player to lose in the last round of qualifying – or, should he front up for at least one match, hand his next opponent a walkover.

Elsewhere, Victoria’s rising COVID-19 cases have seen the state cap attendances at all Australian Open courts to 50 per cent.

The Victorian government confirmed the decision on Thursday, with ticket sales for all sessions to be paused at half capacity if they haven’t already been sold to that level.

Organisers added all tickets already purchased remain valid and no ticket will be cancelled with no change to ground pass access.

The decision was made after Victoria reported 37,169 new cases of the virus on Thursday and 25 deaths.

As well as limited capacity, COVID-19 restrictions for the tennis grand slam will include face masks being mandatory for all patrons unless they are eating or drinking and social distancing measures of one person per two square metres at indoor hospitality venues.

The build-up to the Open, which starts on Monday, has been overshadowed by doubt surrounding the participation of defending men’s champion Novak Djokovic.

The Serbian superstar was detained by Australian Border Force officials upon his arrival to Australia last week before being released on Monday after winning a court case against the Australian Government.

Djokovic’s ability to play in the event remains unclear however as Immigration Minister Alex Hawke ponders using discretionary powers to cancel the world No.1’s visa.

Elsewhere, No.1 seed on the women’s side Ash Barty will play a qualifier in Round 1 while Nick Kyrgios could play Daniil Medvedev in Round 2 if he’s able to recover from COVID and defeat a qualifier in Round 1.


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