Hello and welcome to Wide World of Sports’ tennis summer coverage. There’s still plenty of action today, with matches at the Sydney and Adelaide tournaments, as well as the final day of qualifying for the Australian Open.
If you want to keep up to date with everything that happened yesterday and there has been a lot of drama on and off the pitch, you can click here.
As usual this morning, all eyes remain on world No.1 Novak Djokovic, and his visa saga. Immigration Minister Alex Hawke is still uncertain whether or not he will step in and expel the Serbian from Australia.
The draw for the first Grand Slam tournament of the season took place yesterday, after a 75-minute delay, with Djokovic firing fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round, although there are still provisions in the rules for take into account Djokovic’s withdrawal from the tournament.
If Djokovic retires before Sunday, fifth-seed Andrey Rublev would take his place in the draw, while a Lucky Loser (a defeated player in qualifying) would secure a spot if Djokovic retires after the announcement of the match. order of play Sunday afternoon.
Former Australian Davis Cup player Sam Groth talks to Nine’s Today this morning, noting that the longer this saga drags on, the more it impacts his teammates.
“Regardless of how it goes, a decision has to be made,” Groth said.
“It’s starting to affect the players, the way they prepare, yesterday they were waiting about an extra hour to find out who they are playing.
“Novak’s opponent, Miomir Kecmanovic, he doesn’t know if he’s going to play against Novak, or a Lucky Loser, or Andrey Rublev.”
World No.4 Stefanos Tsitsipas said yesterday that Djokovic’s anti-vax stance made vaccinated players “look like fools”, a stance Groth agreed with.
“Stefanos Tsitsipas is someone we should listen to, I have spoken to a lot of players in Adelaide, and his sentiment is reflected by a lot of them,” he said.
“A lot of players have made the decision to get vaccinated, whether they want to or not, to come and play the Australian Open.
“I think a lot of the players who made the decision to just be able to come to Melbourne Park now feel like it’s a rule for Novak and a rule for everyone.”
All eyes remain on the Immigration Minister, but Groth pointed out that may not be the end of the case, with the possibility of an appeal.
“I guess once there is an intention to deport, Novak has to decide if he’s going to stay and try to take a transitional visa and fight that,” he explained.
“He’s holding on for now, it doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere on his own, right now it looks like we’re going to have Novak Djokovic play at least the first round at Melbourne Park.”
Regardless of how it turns out, Groth says the preparation for the Australian Open has been less than ideal for the nine-time champion.
“It must have had an impact,” he said.
“Even spending time at the immigration hotel, he couldn’t go out and train, he couldn’t eat like he normally does.
“Mentally it’s a huge distraction, I think Tennis Australia goes to great lengths to protect him, by playing practice sets, practice matches behind closed doors.
“It’s definitely a different way for him to prepare, something he’s never experienced, something he never imagined he would experience.
“I think Novak did it all the wrong way. It’s a distraction he doesn’t need, but it’s a distraction not everyone involved in the tournament needs.”