Australian Open talking points: Djokovic saga ends in deportation
Five Australian Open talking points
The Australian Open gets under way on Monday after what has been an extraordinary build-up.
Novak Djokovic lost a judicial review against his second visa cancellation and will not be allowed to defend the title he has won nine times.
Here, we pick out five Australian Open talking points for the tournament.
The Djokovic question
Djokovic’s hopes of winning a record-breaking 21st grand slam are over for now after his legal challenge was unanimously rejected by three judges hearing the case at the Federal Court of Australia on Sunday.
The world number one had been the favourite to win the year’s first grand slam, but now that the Serb is out of the reckoning, Daniil Medvedev leads the way at 6/4 to win the tournament.
Focus on Raducanu
Emma Raducanu’s first grand slam tournament since her extraordinary US Open triumph has been overshadowed by off-court events but the spotlight will shine brightly on the teenager at Melbourne Park.
The courts should suit her but Raducanu represents a prize scalp now while her preparations were disrupted by a bout of coronavirus. It is likely to take most of this season for the 19-year-old Brit to really find her feet on tour.
When Andy Murray sobbed his way through his pre-tournament press conference three years ago, finally opening up on the extent of his hip problems, it seemed he was waving goodbye not just to Melbourne but to tennis.
The tournament all but retired him with a tribute video from his fellow stars but now he is back and the prognosis seems brighter than at any point since.
Murray has stayed fit since Wimbledon, is finally able to train and play tournaments week after week, and results are starting to come as he is proving at the Sydney Tennis Classic, where he could meet fellow Brit Dan Evans in the final.
Osaka seeking happiness on the court
It was unclear when, or even if, Naomi Osaka would return to the tennis tour for much of 2021 but this year has started on a much brighter note.
The reigning Australian Open champion appeared much more relaxed on court and in the press conference room in Melbourne last week. Osaka admits she focused too much on results and rankings in the past and will instead prioritise enjoying the sport.
The 24-year-old’s actions last year divided opinion but there is no doubt a happy and healthy Osaka is a real asset for the sport.
The Covid question
When tournament director Craig Tiley and his team jumped through hoops and put Tennis Australia into the red in order to hold last year’s event, they cannot have imagined that 2022 would be even more tricky.
The Djokovic fiasco has dominated the headlines but, with the Omicron variant rife in Melbourne, there are concerns the virus could have a major impact on the tournament.
Players have been advised to take precautions but a number have tested positive since arriving in the country while crowds have been capped.