Written By Madison Williams
The No. 1 men's tennis player in the world, Novak Djokovic, continues to make headlines in regards to his playing status for the 2022 Australian Open, a grand slam tournament he's won nine times.
Djokovic has been outspoken about his thoughts against the COVID-19 vaccination, and although he hasn't confirmed his unvaccinated status, it's assumed that he remains unvaccinated. Djokovic was given a medical exemption in order to travel to Australia, which has strict guidelines right now against the virus. The Australian Open also had rules in place that the players must be vaccinated to compete.
After Djokovic arrived in Australia, though, he was denied access into the country. He appealed his visa status, and he won the appeal. He was allowed to enter the country and practice for the upcoming grand slam tournament, which starts on Monday, Jan. 17.
However, Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke is still reviewing Djokovic's visa status before he can officially play. The Australian Open draw announcement was delayed 75 minutes, and people suspected that meant Djokovic's name would not be on the list. But, to many people's surprise, Djokovic sits at the No. 1 spot in the men's singles draw.
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic's name is on the Australian Open draw right now, but will he be able to stay?
Is Novak Djokovic playing in the Australian Open 2022?
Djokovic's playing status is still undetermined as his visa acceptance is being reviewed at this time. However, in the meantime, he is the No. 1 seed for the 2022 Australian Open. He faces a fellow Serbian, Miomir Kecmanovic, in the first round of the tournament, beginning on Monday.
It's unclear when Immigration Minister Hawke will have a decision about Djokovic's visa status. Djokovic's visa was reinstated on Monday, so it will be a full week by the time play starts. Hawke has not spoken publicly about any update in his decision.
What happens if Djokovic has to pull out of the Australian Open?
If Djokovic's visa status decision comes out against the player, he will be deported from Australia and have to drop out of the tournament.
Depending on when the decision comes will determine who will replace Djokovic in the tournament if he has to withdraw. The qualifying tournament ahead of the Australian Open finishes on Friday, Jan. 14, and then the full order of play will be released closer to Monday. If Djokovic withdraws before the order of play is released, then No. 5 Andrey Rublev will take Djokovic's place, according to the 2022 Grand Slam rulebook.
If the Monday schedule is released before Djokovic's withdrawl, then a "lucky loser" will replace him. These lucky losers are players who lose in the qualifying rounds, but get a chance to play in the tournament when other players have to drop out.
And, finally, if Djokovic already begins playing in the tournament before the decision is made about his visa status, then his next competitor will just move on to the next round.