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The failure of Djokovic’s appeal finally brought an end to the saga that has dominated the build-up to the year’s first grand slam. After spending four nights in a detention hotel in Melbourne following his dramatic detainment at the border, Djokovic was released on procedural grounds and immediately to the Rod Laver Arena to prepare to defend his title. However, on Sunday, Australia’s immigration minister used his discretionary power to dash Djokovic’s hopes and cancel his visa for a second time, claiming the 34-year-old’s presence “may be counterproductive to efforts at vaccination by others.”
Djokovic, who boarded a connecting flight to Belgrade on Monday, could now face a three-year ban from Australia. However, the prime minister, Scott Morrison, has moved to downplay the severity of that punishment, suggesting the ban could be altered under the “right circumstances” and would be reviewed in the future accordingly. A number of players, including Alize Cornet and Nick Kyrgios, have subsequently criticised Australia’s politicising of the saga, insisting that the treatment of Djokovic had been unfair after he arrived in the country with a medical exemption granted by the Victorian government.
Follow all the latest news, reaction and updates as the Australian Open finally got underway on Monday.
PM suggests three-year visa ban can be reduced
Australian Open 2022: Tomljanovic 4-5 Badosa
12:12 , Tom Kershaw
It’s been a great response from Tomljanovic, who’s beating Badosa back behind the baseline with some fierce groundstrokes. She gets the break back and we’re on serve at 4-5 in the opener. There’ll be a short delay as both players receive some on-court treatment.
Australian Open 2022: Zverev holds off Altmaier fightback
12:03 , Tom Kershaw
Altmaier might be trailing by two sets against the world No 3, but he mounted a fine attempt at a fightback in the third. The German broke his compatriot’s serve but could only hold on for so long. Zverev struck back after falling 4-2 down in the set and now, after 2h 25m, Altmaier will serve to stay in the match.
Australian Open 2022: Badosa breaks in first set
11:50 , Tom Kershaw
It’s been a full-blooded start to the match between Badosa and Tomljanovic, with both players possessing a lot of power from behind the baseline. It’s Badosa who has the better precision, though, and she breaks to take a 3-1 lead in the opening set.
Australian Open 2022: Zverev wins second set
11:19 , Tom Kershaw
Zverev is cruising towards victory now. The German has won the second set 6-1.
Over on Margaret Court Arena, Ajla Tomljanovic and Paula Badosa are warming up ahead of their first-round match.
Australian Open 2022: Millman defeats Lopez
11:06 , Tom Kershaw
John Millman was made to work hard by Feliciano Lopez, with the 40-year-old Spaniard refusing to let go of his career lightly. But at 6-5 in the fourth set, the Australian manages to find the break to wrap up a hard-fought 2h 52m victory.
Australian Open 2022: Zverev races into second-set lead
10:57 , Tom Kershaw
Yes, Altmaier’s resistance has started to wane now and Zverev has raced into an emphatic 4-0 lead in the second set.
Elsewhere, one Australian is keeping another home favourite waiting. John Millman leads Feliciano Lopez by two sets to one on Margaret Court Arena, with the score at 5-5 in the fourth.
Following that match will be the brilliant contest between Wimbledon quarter-finalist Ajla Tomljanovic and world No 6 Paula Badosa.
Djokovic visa ban could be reduced, says Australian PM
10:53 , Tom Kershaw
Australian prime minister Scott Morrison played a central role in the initial cancellation of Novak Djokovic’s visa, declaring that “nobody is above the rules” after the public reacted furiously to news of the world No 1’s supposed medical exemption.
However, Morrison did suggest there may be some leniency regarding Djokovic’s ban after the Serbian was deported on Sunday.
After losing his appeal, Djokovic should technically not be granted a new visa for three years according to Australia’s immigration laws. Morrison, though, said that penalty can be reviewed under the “right circumstances”.
“[The ban] does go over a three-year period, but there is the opportunity for them to return in the right circumstances and that would be considered at the time,” he said.
Australian Open 2022: Zverev wins first set
10:43 , Tom Kershaw
Eventually, Zverev’s power and booming forehand prevail. The world No 3 takes the tie-break 7-3 and Altmaier’s resistance is finally broken. It will take a momentous effort to hold off Zverev now.
Australian Open 2022: Zverev 6-6 Altmaier
10:34 , Tom Kershaw
Another fine hold from Altmaier and the two Germans are headed to a tie-break after a thrilling first set.
Australian Open 2022: Zverev 5-5 Altmaier
10:28 , Tom Kershaw
A huge hold for Altmaier! Zverev was gifted a great chance to earn two break and set points, having overpowered Altmaier in another long rally. The short ball sat up perfectly for him on the service line at 15-30 but, with both sides of the court gaping, the German dragged his backhand wide.
Altmaier then saved a set point at 30-40 to take the game to deuce, where they see-sawed back and forth, including one momentous rally, before Altmaier follows up a volley winner with a fine serve. He roars to the crowd.
Australian Open 2022: Karatsev recovers after shaky start
10:18 , Tom Kershaw
Alsan Karatsev was also victorious in one of last week’s warm-up events, defeating both Dan Evans and Andy Murray to claim the Sydney International title.
The Russian No 18 seed got off to a shaky start in his opening match against Spain’s Jaume Munar, losing the first set 6-3. Karatsev has recovered after a tense second set now, though, dominating the tie-break to level the match.
Australian Open 2022: Keys defeats Kenin in all-American contest
10:14 , Tom Kershaw
Madison Keys pulled off a 7-6 7-5 upset against fellow American and No 11 seed Sofia Kenin this morning.
Keys, who was once ranked as high as No 7 and reached the US Open final in 2017, won a warm-up event in Adelaide last week and continued that form on Monday as she looks to use the year’s first grand slam as a springboard towards old heights.
Australian Open 2022: Zverev and Altmaier on serve
10:02 , Tom Kershaw
Alexander Zverev has not made the most convincing start to his first-round match against Daniel Altmaier. The first set is on serve at 3-2 but the world No 3 has already produced three double faults and won only three out of nine points on his second service.
Djokovic could face French Open trouble
09:46 , Tom Kershaw
Ten days ago, France’s sports minister Roxana Maracineau seemed to quell doubts over Novak Djokovic’s participation at Roland Garros and cited a “health bubble” system that would be used for visiting athletes.
However, in a social media post on Sunday, Maracineau suggested that the government has now taken a harder stance that could throw Djokovic’s participation at the French Open into jeopardy.
“The vaccine pass has been adopted,” she wrote. “As soon as the law is promulgated, it will become compulsory to enter public buildings already subject to the health pass (stadium, theatre or lounge) for all spectators, practitioners, French or foreign professionals.”
Australian Open 2022: Kokkinakis stumbles out
09:42 , Tom Kershaw
There was little joy for home favourite Thanasi Kokkinakis on Monday. The Australian won his first ATP singles title only last week in Adelaide but came unstuck against German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann in the first round.
Another Australian hope is in action on Margaret Court Arena. John Millman took the first two sets against Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez in commanding fashion but now finds himself a break down in the third.
Australian Open 2022: Zverev next up on Rod Laver Arena
09:18 , Tom Kershaw
It’ll be Alexander Zverev, the world No 3 and Olympic champion, up next for the final match of the day on Rod Laver Arena. The German takes on his compatriot Daniel Altmaier in the first round.
Australian Open 2022: Barty thrashes Tsurenko
09:13 , Tom Kershaw
Tsurenko saves two match points and spares herself the indignity of a whitewash. A sympathetic cheer goes up around the Rod Laver Arena. The Ukrainian has been on the wrong end of a ruthless Barty display.
The Australian world No 1 wastes little time in completing her 6-0 6-1 victory in the following service game.
Australian Open 2022: Plain sailing for Barty
09:02 , Tom Kershaw
Ashleigh Barty could hardly have dreamed of a smoother start to her Australian Open campaign.
She leads 6-0 4-0 and the match can barely qualify as a contest. Tsurenko’s serve is far too timid and has been swatted away throughout with total nonchalance.
Barty will benefit from another kind draw in the second round, where she is set to face qualifier Lucia Bronzetti. The Italian is actually ranked 25 places below Tsurenko and is unlikely to pose a much greater test.
Becker: Easiest things for Djokovic is to get vaccinated
08:57 , Tom Kershaw
Becker added that he believes the easiest thing for Djokovic to do remains to get the vaccine and fears the Serbian could otherwise face more issues at the grand slams going forwards.
“Australia is his favourite tournament, he has won it nine times,” Becked said. “He wanted to break the record of 21 [grand slam singles titles]. There was no better chance for him than to play in Melbourne. Now, this chance is taken away, so I think deep down, he will be very frustrated.
“It is the ultimate question [if he will get vaccinated]. Life would be easier for him and anyone else who gets vaccinated. I think we all are, but the world is divided and he is the most famous of the anti-vaxxers.
“I’m sure the French Open has watched this saga; I’m sure Wimbledon has watched it. Let’s see, but the government restrictions will be there in May and June, I’m sure. Let’s see what Novak does. The way out, the easiest thing for him, would be to get vaccinated.
“It is tough enough to win a tennis tournament. Now his struggle is to get the right documents in order to participate in one. It’s crazy the world we live in, but that is the way it is. I think we have all had two years to accept it, and there is no other choice.”
Becker: No winners from Djokovic saga
08:49 , Tom Kershaw
Boris Becker is part of Eurosport’s team out in Melbourne and the six-time grand slam champion, who of course coached Novak Djokovic from 2014-2016, has been speaking about the government’s decision to deport the Serbian.
“I always had a bad feeling about this,” Becker said. “Any government is bigger than any individual. I was a bit surprised that the court ruled in his favour on Monday of last week, but obviously the government had the last word.
“I don’t think there are any winners. Djokovic obviously pays the highest price, but Tennis Australia did not look good; the Victorian government did not look good; the country of Australia did not look good. It is something I find sad to say because it has been one of the most hospitable countries for so long, so I’m a little bit confused about what is going on there. But ultimately, there are very strict vaccination rules and they have made the difference.”
Australian Open 2022: Barty wins first set to love
08:45 , Tom Kershaw
It’s been a ruthless start by Ashleigh Barty, who wins the first set to love against Lesia Tsurenko in just 24 minutes.
The Ukrainian looks very out of her depth and has no answer to Barty’s precision and power.
Australian Open 2022: Norrie and Gauff stunned in first round
08:36 , Tom Kershaw
There was bad news for British fans overnight as Cameron Norrie’s hopes were left in tatters. Norrie, who was seeded as high as No 12 heading into the tournament, didn’t benefit from a kind draw, with 21-year-old Sebastian Korda considered one of the rising stars of American tennis. That proved to be the case, with Norrie unable to answer Korda’s big serve and quickly falling to a damning 6-3 6-0 6-4 defeat.
Another upset came at the expense of Coco Gauff. The 17-year-old American was a considerable favourite against Qiang Wang but was beaten 6-4 6-2 on Margaret Court Arena. Wang was once ranked as high as No 12 in the world but endured a difficult 2021 and fell outside the top-100.
Australian Open 2022: Barty faces Tsurenko
08:27 , Tom Kershaw
World No 1 Ashleigh Barty would undoubtedly be the most popular winner in Melbourne, and she’s made an ideal start in her first-round match against Lesia Tsurenko on Rod Laver Arena, breaking the Ukrainian straight away to take a 2-0 lead in the first set.
Australian Open 2022: Nadal thrashes Giron
08:21 , Tom Kershaw
Rafael Nadal reserved little sympathy for Novak Djokovic last week and will know this year represents the best of his remaining chances to win a second Australian Open title - his first in Melbourne coming all the way back in 2009.
The Spaniard, whose 2021 was wrecked by injury, started in an authoritative fashion against Marcos Giron, thrashing the American 6-1 6-4 6-2 in an hour and 51 minutes.
“The last six months have been tough,” Nadal said afterwards. “Being outside of the competition, but since the first lockdown in 2020 everybody knows I’ve had a foot injury since the beginning of my career. I was able to manage it more or less well. After that, two months being at home, it has been very challenging since then.
“I was able to play at the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021, but I have had very tough moments with a lot of doubts. I can’t be happier to be back here in Australia in this amazing stadium. It’s fantastic for me.
“When you come back from injury, things are always difficult. You have to go day-by-day. You have to forgive yourself when things are not going your way. Staying positive, playing with the right energy and being on the tour practising with the guys and winning matches for sure helps.”
Australian Open 2022: Osaka returns in style
08:10 , Tom Kershaw
After making the perfect start to 2021 by winning her second Australian Open title, Naomi Osaka spent a significant amount of time away from the court last year as she prioritised focusing on her mental health.
The defending champion, who had not competed since losing in the third round of the US Open before returning for last week’s warm-up event in Melbourne, showed no sign of rust though as she cruised to a straight sets victory over Camila Osorio Serrano on Rod Laver Arena overnight.
“I thought I played pretty well given the circumstances,” said Osaka. “Overall I’m happy to be here and see everyone in the audience. I like the hot conditions but when I come here everyone is warm and welcoming. I’m sure that has a positive effect on me.”
Osaka will now face Madison Brengle in the second round.
Australian Open 2022: Day One
07:31 , Tom Kershaw
Welcome to The Independent’s live coverage as, after all the drama over Novak Djokovic’s visa cancellation, the Australian Open finally got underway on Monday without its men’s champion.
The nine-times champion’s absence has blown the men’s draw wide open, with Rafael Nadal, Matteo Berrettini and Denis Shapovalov among those to secure their spot in the second round overnight. There was no such luck for Briton’s Cameron Norrie, though, who was outgunned by the American Sebastian Korda.
There were few difficulties for the women’s defending champion, Naomi Osaka, who breezed past Camila Osorio. Maria Sakkari, Victoria Azarenka and Elina Svitolina both advanced to the second round, but Coco Gauff fell to a disappointing upset, defeated in straight sets by China’s Qiang Wang.
Still to come this morning, women’s No 1 Ashleigh Barty begins her quest to win on home soil against the Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko. Americans Madison Keys and Sofia Kenin meet on John Cain Arena, while Ajla Tomljanovic, who defeated Emma Raducanu in the fourth round at Wimbledon last year, takes on the in-form No 8 seed Paula Badosa.