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'Disappointed' Novak Djokovic loses appeal, out of Aussie Open

World No. 1 flies out of country after judge upholds visa revocation

Novak Djokovic federal court hearing, in Melbourne
Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic walks in the Melbourne Airport before boarding a flight, after the Federal Court upheld a government decision to cancel his visa to play in the Australian Open, in Melbourne, Australia, on Sunday, January 16, 2022.
Loren Elliott / Reuters
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World No. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia will not be able to defend his title at the Australian Open after a high court upheld the government's decision to cancel his visa and deport the unvaccinated star.

Three Federal Court judges ruled unanimously against Djokovic's appeal of the country's immigration minister's ruling to cancel Djokovic's visa on the grounds of public interest.

Djokovic released a statement after the ruling, saying he would be taking time to "rest and recuperate" before making "further comments."

"I am extremely disappointed with the Court ruling to dismiss my application for judicial review of the Minister's decision to cancel my visa, which means I cannot stay in Australia and participate in the Australian Open," Djokovic said in his statement. "I respect the Court's ruling and I will cooperate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country.

"I am uncomfortable that the focus of the past weeks has been on me and I hope that we can all now focus on the game and tournament I love. I would like to wish the players, tournament officials, staff, volunteers and fans all the best for the tournament."

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Djokovic flew out of Australia on Sunday after a court upheld the government's decision to cancel his visa. Djokovic went to the airport in Melbourne just hours later. Federal agents escorted him and his team from the business lounge to the gate, where he boarded an Emirates flight bound for Dubai.

Chief Justice James Allsop announced late Sunday night that the decision was unanimous to dismiss Djokovic's appeal, with court costs to be paid by the 34-year-old.

"These grounds focus on whether the decision was for different reasons irrational or legally unreasonable. It is no part of the function of the court to decide upon the merits or wisdom of the decision," Allsop said.

Djokovic could still appeal to Australia's top court, though that's considered a longshot given the timing. And his statement would imply that his fight is over. As does the release of the Australian Open schedule update.

Djokovic was scheduled to begin play Monday against fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic. His spot in the tournament field went to "lucky loser" Salvatore Caruso. The Italian is ranked No. 150 in the world.

Djokovic was detained Saturday ahead of the Sunday hearing after immigration minister Alex Hawke canceled his visa for a second time.

Hawke said he made the latest decision based on "health and ... on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so."

Attorneys for Djokovic said in the appeal that the grounds for canceling his visa were "patently irrational."

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Djokovic is a nine-time winner of the Australian Open, including the past three. He holds 20 Grand Slam championships, tying him for the most all-time with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Nadal is entered in the 2022 tournament. Federer is continuing his rehabilitation from knee surgery.

Related Topics: TENNIS
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