One of the most extraordinary episodes in tennis history ended with Australia’s Federal Court upholding the country’s immigration minister’s decision to revoke Djokovic’s visa for the second time. .
The nine-time Australian Open champion found himself in a tussle with the government from the moment he landed in Melbourne last week amid a political storm raging over an exemption allowing him to entering the country despite not being vaccinated against coronavirus.
Now he’s heading home, leaving the rest of the players and the tournament to try and bring the focus back to tennis.
The move means nine-time champion Djokovic will not defend his Australian Open title, which begins on Monday, and is banned from Australia for three years – although that may be overturned.
Giving his reaction, Murray told the BBC: “Novak is someone I’ve known since we were 12, he’s someone I respect and have competed against. I don’t like that. he’s in this situation and I don’t like he’s been in detention.
“The situation hasn’t been good for anyone. Hopefully from all sides, from the tournament and from Novak, we can make sure this doesn’t happen in any other tournament and that something is in place ahead of time.
“It feels like everything here happened at the last minute and that’s why it became a *** show.”
The ATP described the saga as a “deeply regrettable series of events” and said Djokovic’s absence was “a loss to the game”.
The governing body said in a statement: “Today’s decision to uphold the cancellation of Novak Djokovic’s Australian visa marks the end of a series of deeply regrettable events.
“Ultimately, the decisions of the judicial authorities in matters of public health must be respected. More time is needed to take stock of the facts and learn from this situation.
“Regardless of how that point was reached, Novak is one of the greatest champions in our sport and his absence from the Australian Open is a loss to the game.
“We know how hectic Novak has been over the past few days and how much he wanted to defend his title in Melbourne. We wish him well and look forward to seeing him back on court soon. The ATP continues to strongly recommend vaccination to all players.”
Djokovic founded the Professional Tennis Players Association in 2020 alongside Canadian Vasek Pospisil as an organization to represent players only.
The verdict brought support from some of his allies, with John Isner saying on Twitter: “Nole always has and always will be class. He is an absolute legend in my book who has done so much good for millions around the world . It’s not right.”
Pospisil added: “There was a political agenda at play here with the upcoming elections that couldn’t be more evident. It’s not his fault. He didn’t force his way into the country and didn’t didn’t ‘make his own rules’; he was willing to stay home.”
Australia is the first country to mandate compulsory vaccinations for players, but it won’t be the last and when the dust settles the big concern within the sport will be to make sure this situation never happens again. .
Former UK number one Greg Rusedski wrote on Twitter: “This whole mess with Novak could have easily been avoided.
“If the Australian Open and the Victorian Government had said that no medical exemptions are allowed to participate @AustralianOpen. You must be double vaax or you cannot participate. Why has this not happened ?”