Jan 14, 2022 - Sports

Timeline: The Djokovic saga

Novak Djokovic during a practice session for the 2022 Australian Open n Melbourne, Australia, on Friday. Photo: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images
Novak Djokovic during a practice session for the 2022 Australian Open n Melbourne, Australia, on Friday. Photo: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

The Australian Open begins Monday (Sunday in the U.S.), and No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic's status is still up in the air.

Where it stands: Djokovic faces deportation after his visa was revoked for a second time by the Australian government on Friday. A lawyer for Djokovic has asked a court for an injunction preventing his removal from Australia.

How we got here: The past 10 days should have been about the World No. 1's quest for a record-breaking 21st major victory. Instead, they've snowballed into one of the biggest off-court tennis sagas ever.

  • Jan. 4: Djokovic, who is unvaccinated, announces he's heading to Australia with a medical exemption. Days later, we learn he got the exemption because he tested positive for COVID in December.
  • Jan. 5: Upon his arrival in Melbourne, he's held in the airport — in a room guarded by police, according to his father — due to a mistake with his visa application.
  • Jan. 6: After eight hours of airport detention, Djokovic's visa is canceled and he's denied entry to the country for failing to meet the exemption requirements.
  • Jan. 9: While he is cooped up in an immigration detention hotel — and inadvertently drawing widespread attention to refugees — Djokovic's parents join a rally in Belgrade, Serbia, demanding his release.
  • Jan. 10: Djokovic's visa is reinstated on appeal after arguing that his positive test in December superseded the country's vaccination requirement. Hours later, he's out on the courts practicing.
  • Jan. 12: In a statement, Djokovic blames his agent for "tick[ing] the incorrect box" on his travel declaration, which falsely claimed he didn't visit any countries in the prior two weeks.
  • Jan. 12: In the same statement, he admits to having attended an in-person interview after his positive test in December. He calls the breach of protocols "an error of judgement," while the Serbian Prime Minister calls it "a clear violation."
  • Jan. 13: The tournament draw is revealed, and it features Djokovic as the No. 1 seed, even as immigration officials continue to investigate him.

The bottom line: 255 men and women are currently looking at the draw and preparing for the year's first major tournament, but the 256th is all anyone can seem to talk about.

Go deeper