Novak Djokovic forced to leave Australia after nine-hour stand-off at airport

Novak Djokovic 's place at the Australian Open later this month has been thrust into further doubt after Border Force officials told him he will not be allowed to enter the country, according to reports.

Australian newspaper The Age reports his visa has been rejected, and that he will be flown out of Melbourne on Thursday. The tennis star's lawyers are set to appeal the decision.

After a long flight, the world's best male tennis player was made to wait for several hours more before he could leave Melbourne Airport.

Officials had discovered an issue with the Serbian's visa documents, which caused them to deny Djokovic immediate entry until the issue had been ironed out.

It was the latest in a long line of twists in the ongoing saga over whether or not he would be able to defend his Australian Open title, due to his decision not to reveal his vaccinations status.

Djokovic cited medical privacy for his silence on the subject, but in order to enter the state of Victoria without a medical exemption, travellers must be able to prove they have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

The Serb told fans on social media he had been given "exemption permission" to travel, and that he would be heading to Australia to compete after all.

But as he was making his way Down Under, reports began to emerge of the visa problem.

In a bid to smooth things over without too much fuss, Border Force officials had asked the Victorian government to sponsor the visa and allow him to enter the state.

But that request was denied, with acting sports minister Jaala Pulford Tweeting: "We will not be providing Novak Djokovic with individual visa application support to participate in the 2022 Australian Open Grand Slam.

"We've always been clear on two points: visa approvals are a matter for the Federal Government, and medical exemptions are a matter for doctors."

After being stuck at the airport for several hours, Djokovic's father Srdjan launched a sensational attack on the Australian government and accused Border Force officials of holding his son "captive".

He claimed the world number one was being forced to stay in a room which was being guarded by two police officers.

And he went on to say to Serbian media: "I have no idea what is going on. They are holding my son captive for hours.

""If they don't let him go in half an hour we will gather on the street. This is a fight for everyone."

Meanwhile, Djokovic's coach Goran Ivanisevic was keen to make light of the situation on social media.

He posed a photo of himself and physiotherapist Ulises Badio sat in a waiting area at the airport at around 4am local time, along with the caption: "Not the most usual trip Down Under."

Djokovic is the defending Australian Open champion, and his nine singles successes in Melbourne is the most of any male player.

A tenth success this year would be his 21st Grand Slam title, eclipsing the current record of 20 which he currently holds along with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

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