Novak Djokovic Drama is Altering the Australian Open Odds

Novak Djokovic Drama is Altering the Australian Open Odds
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Novak Djokovic had his visa revoked for the second time in Australia, as the saga over the eligibility of the No. 1-ranked men’s tennis player continues just days before the first major tournament of the year.

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Immigration Minister Alex Hawke decided to cancel Djokovic’s visa late Friday night, putting into question Djokovic’s status for the start of Monday’s Australian Open. Djokovic has won a record nine of his 20 Grand Slams at the event.

“This decision followed orders by the Federal Circuit and Family Court on 10 January 2022, quashing a prior cancellation decision on procedural fairness grounds,” Hawke said in a statement. “In making this decision, I carefully considered information provided to me by the Department of Home Affairs, the Australian Border Force and Mr. Djokovic.

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“The Morrison government is firmly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

An emergency court hearing on Friday night prevented Djokovic’s deportation. It is expected he will meet with Australian Border Force officials on Saturday morning and officially be detained. While the legal action continues, he can’t be officially removed from the country.

Djokovic Plans to Appeal Ruling

Djokovic’s legal team is set to appeal. His lawyer, Nick Wood, hopes the appeal will be heard Sunday and Djokovic will have his visa in time to play on Monday. The basis of the appeal against Hawke’s decision is that it was not about the health risk Djokovic could have on others while not being vaccinated but how he might be looked at by anti-vaxxers.

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"The minister only considers the potential for exciting anti-vax sentiment in the event that he's present," Wood said. "The minister gives no consideration whatsoever to what effect that may have on anti-vax sentiment and indeed on public order. That seems patently irrational."

The Djokovic drama comes as Australia is experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases. Because of the highly transmissible omicron variant, Australia reported 130,000 new cases on Friday, with almost 35,000 in Victoria. The positive cases have affected the country’s healthcare system, with more than 4,400 people hospitalized.

"This pandemic has been incredibly difficult for every Australian, but we have stuck together and saved lives and livelihoods,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement. “Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected. This is what the Minister is doing in taking this action today."

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The Australian Open requires all players and their support teams, in addition to spectators, to be vaccinated for COVID-19. Djokovic is not vaccinated and was looking for a medical exemption because he had COVID-19 in December. That exemption was initially approved by the Victoria state government and Tennis Australia before the Australian Border Force turned down the exemption and canceled his visa for the first time back on Jan. 5.

Medvedev Now Favored in Australian Open

Djokovic opened as the Australian Open betting favorite at FanDuel Sportsbook with +130 odds to win the Grand Slam event. Despite his uncertain status over the past week, he has remained the favorite up until today, following the cancellation of his visa for the second time.

Now, Danilil Medvedev is favorite at +145. Djokovic is still listed on betting boards, but his odds have slipped to +170. Medvedev denied Djokovic’s attempt at the Grand Slam last year by defeating him in the U.S. Open for his first Grand Slam championship.

Alexander Zverev (+270), Rafael Nadal (+900) and Stefanos Tsitsipas (+1700) round out the top five with the best odds to win the Australian Open.

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