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Novak Djokovic learns draw at Australian Open as he awaits deportation decision

Novak Djokovic is scheduled to face fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round of the Australian Open after the draw was held Thursday with the top-ranked tennis player’s future in the country in limbo.

The draw was delayed 75 minutes after word spread that Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison would hold a press conference. But Morrison barely spoke about Djokovic in what was a COVID-19 update, with his brief comment coming when he said the matter was in the hands of Australia’s Immigration Minister Alex Hawke.

Djokovic, who is not vaccinated against COVID-19, had his visa cancelled on arrival in Melbourne last week when his vaccination exemption was questioned. But the 20-time Grand Slam champion won a legal battle on procedural grounds that allowed him to stay in the country and the world’s top-ranked player practised at the Australian Open site on Tuesday.

However, the court decision didn’t guarantee he could stay in the country. Hawke has the option to deport Djokovic if it is deemed to be in the public interest for health and safety reasons.

Meanwhile, No. 9 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime of Montreal will face Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland in the first round of the Australian Open. No. 14 seed Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., will meet Laslo Djere of Serbia.

In the women’s draw, No. 23 seed Leylah Fernandez of Laval, Que., got a matchup with Australian wild card Maddison Inglis in the first round.

Rebecca Marino of Vancouver has advanced to the final round of qualifying on Friday.

The main draw is scheduled to start Monday.



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