‘Disappointed’ Djokovic Deported From Australia 

File photo: Serbia’s Novak Djokovic leaves the court after being defeated by Germany’s Alexander Zverev in their Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games men’s singles semifinal tennis match at the Ariake Tennis Park in Tokyo on July 30, 2021. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

 

Novak Djokovic was deported from Australia Sunday having lost a sensational legal battle over his coronavirus vaccination status and with his dream of clinching a record 21st Grand Slam in tatters.

An “extremely disappointed” Djokovic said he would comply with a unanimous Federal Court decision to uphold his visa cancellation over fears he could stoke anti-vaccine sentiment.

“I cannot stay in Australia and participate in the Australian Open,” he said on the eve of a tournament that he has dominated for a decade.

“I hope that we can all now focus on the game and tournament I love.”

An AFP reporter captured images of Djokovic at Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport late Sunday, as the humbled star boarded a flight for Dubai.

EK409 took off at 10:51 pm local time (1151 GMT).

Just hours earlier, in a few dry words, the chief justice of Australia’s Federal Court, James Allsop, dispensed with the unvaccinated tennis superstar’s attempt to reinstate his cancelled visa and to make tennis history.

“The orders of the court are that the amended application be dismissed with costs,” Allsop said in understated remarks that ended a week of legal high drama.

Three Federal Court justices had listened to half a day of feisty legal back-and-forth about Djokovic’s alleged risk to public order in Australia.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke claimed Djokovic’s stance could inspire anti-vaccine sentiment, leading some people to face the pandemic without vaccination and inspiring anti-vaxxer activists to gather in protests and rallies.

Hawke welcomed Sunday’s verdict, saying: “Australia’s strong border protection policies have kept us safe during the pandemic.”

“(They) are also fundamental to safeguarding Australia’s social cohesion,” he said.

The player’s high-powered legal team tried but failed to paint Australia’s effort to deport him as “irrational” and “unreasonable”.

Despite the star being unvaccinated, lawyer Nick Wood insisted his client had not courted anti-vaxxer support and was not associated with the movement.

The government “doesn’t know what Mr Djokovic’s current views are”, Wood insisted.

The court did not endorse the government’s decision but ruled the action was legal under rules that give the minister exceptional and almost unquestionable executive power.

Anti-Vaccination ‘Icon’ 

Novak Djokovic was denied aces to participate in the Australian Open despite ab exemption from two panels of medical experts
In this file photo taken on October 22, 2020, Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic attends an open-air press conference in Belgrade.  (Photo by Andrej ISAKOVIC / AFP)

 

The Australian Open defending champion and first seed had been scheduled to play against fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic on Monday evening.

But Djokovic has spent much of the last week in immigration detention, with his visa twice being revoked by the government over his refusal to get a Covid-19 vaccine before arrival — a requirement for most visitors.

Government lawyer Stephen Lloyd said the fact Djokovic was not vaccinated two years into the pandemic and had repeatedly ignored safety measures — including failing to isolate while Covid-19 positive — was evidence enough of his anti-vaccine views.

“He has now become an icon for the anti-vaccination groups,” Lloyd said. “Rightly or wrongly he is perceived to endorse an anti-vaccination view and his presence here is seen to contribute to that.”

In a written submission the government also pointed out that Djokovic chose not to give evidence at the hearing.

“He could set the record straight if it needed correcting. He has not — that has important consequences.”

Because of the format of the court, the justices’ decision would have been almost impossible to appeal.

Scott Morrison’s government had tried and failed to remove Djokovic once before — on the grounds he was unvaccinated and that a recent Covid infection was not sufficient for a medical exemption.

A lower circuit court judge ruled that officials at Melbourne airport made procedural errors when cancelling his visa.

For a few days, Djokovic was free to train — before a second visa revocation and a return to a notorious Melbourne immigration detention facility.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic lashed out at Australian authorities.

“They think that they have by this, this mistreatment of 10 days, humiliated Djokovic, but they have humiliated themselves. Djokovic can return to his country with his head held high,” Vucic told a state media outlet.

Vucic has remained steadfast in his support for Djokovic throughout the drama, calling the earlier detention of the tennis star a “political witch hunt”.

“I spoke earlier to Novak Djokovic after the decision and I encouraged him. We look forward to seeing him return to his country, where he is always welcome,” the president added.

‘With Or Without Him’ 

Many Australians — who have suffered prolonged lockdowns and border restrictions — believe the player gamed the system to dodge vaccine entry requirements.

The case has been seized on by culture warriors in the roiling debate over vaccines and how to handle the pandemic.

The tennis ace contracted Covid-19 in mid-December — allowing for the medical exemption — and, according to his own account, failed to isolate despite knowing he was positive.

Public records show he attended a stamp unveiling and a youth tennis event, and granted a media interview around the time he got tested and his latest infection was confirmed.

Djokovic is tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal with 20 Grand Slam titles each.

Spanish great Nadal took a swipe at his rival on Saturday as players complained the scandal was overshadowing the opening Grand Slam of the year.

“The Australian Open is much more important than any player,” Nadal told reporters at Melbourne Park.

“The Australian Open will be a great Australian Open with or without him.”

AFP 

Djokovic: Australian Open More Important Than Any Player, Says Nadal

This handout picture released by Tennis Australia on January 15, 2022, shows Rafael Nadal of Spain speaking at a press conference ahead of the Australian Open at Melbourne Park in Melbourne. MORGAN HANCOCK / TENNIS AUSTRALIA / AFP

 

Rafael Nadal took a swipe at rival Novak Djokovic on Saturday as the world’s number one fights deportation from Australia, saying: “The Australian Open is much more important than any player.”

Ahead of the start of the first Grand Slam on Monday, Nadal told reporters at Melbourne Park: “Australian Open will be a great Australian Open with or without him.”

Djokovic is still in the draw to defend his title but faces deportation from the country before then after the Australian government canceled his visa for a second time, calling him a threat to public order.

The long-running saga over whether the unvaccinated Serbian can stay in the country has overshadowed the first Grand Slam of the year, where Djokovic and Nadal would both be trying to become the first man to win 21 majors.

Nadal said he respected Djokovic “as a person, of course, and as an athlete, without a doubt”.

READ ALSO: Brazil Begins Vaccinating Children Despite President’s Objection

But the Spaniard added: “I really respect him, even if I don’t agree with a lot of the things that he did the last couple of weeks.”

And he said that the controversy had dragged on too long.

“I think the situation has been too far. Honestly, I’m a little bit tired of the situation because I just believe that it’s important to talk about our sport, about tennis,” Nadal said.

Djokovic Detained Again In Australia, Declared Public Threat

Novak Djokovic of Serbia attends a practice session ahead of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 14, 2022. MARTIN KEEP / AFP

 

Australia returned Novak Djokovic to detention on Saturday, saying the tennis star’s opposition to vaccination could cause “civil unrest” and triggering a high-profile court showdown.

Having once failed to remove the unvaccinated 34-year-old from the country, Australia’s conservative government is trying again.

And Djokovic is fighting back for the second time, with a new court appeal scheduled for Sunday.

The case will be heard from 9:30 am (2230GMT) by the full Federal Court of three justices, a format that leaves little room to appeal any decision.

READ ALSO: Brazil Begins Vaccinating Children Despite President’s Objection

For now, the Serbian ace is back at a notorious Melbourne immigration detention facility after a few short-lived days of freedom following his first successful court appeal.

A motorcade was spotted moving from his lawyers’ offices — where he had been kept under guard for most of Saturday — to the former Park Hotel facility.

For millions around the world, the Serbian star is best known as a gangly all-conquering tennis champion with a ferocious backhand and his anti-vaccine stance.

In court filings, Australia has cast him as a figurehead for anti-vaxxers and a catalyst for potential “civil unrest” who must be removed in the public interest.

Djokovic’s presence in Australia “may foster anti-vaccination sentiment”, immigration minister Alex Hawke argued, justifying his use of broad executive powers to revoke the ace’s visa.

Not only could Djokovic encourage people to flout health rules, Hawke said, but his presence could lead to “civil unrest”.

So with just two days before the Australian Open begins, the defending champion is again focused on law courts rather than centre court.

Second Serve

After months of speculation about whether Djokovic would get vaccinated to play in Australia, he used a medical exemption to enter the country a week ago, hoping to challenge for a record 21st Grand Slam title at the Open.

Many Australians — who have suffered prolonged lockdowns and border restrictions — believe Djokovic gamed the system to dodge vaccine entry requirements.

Amid public outcry, Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government revoked Djokovic’s visa on arrival.

But the government was humiliated when a judge reinstated Djokovic’s visa and allowed him to remain in the country.

This time, the government has invoked exceptional — and difficult to challenge — executive powers to declare him a threat to public health and safety.

Experts say the case has taken on significance beyond the fate of one man who happens to be good at tennis.

“The case is likely to define how tourists, foreign visitors and even Australian citizens view the nation’s immigration policies and ‘equality before the law’ for years to come,” said Sanzhuan Guo, a law lecturer at Flinders University.

Djokovic’s lawyers argue the government “cited no evidence” to support their claims.

The minister admitted that Djokovic is at “negligible” risk of infecting Australians, but argued his past “disregard” for Covid-19 regulations may pose a risk to public health and encourage people to ignore pandemic rules.

The tennis ace contracted Covid-19 in mid-December and, according to his own account, failed to isolate despite knowing he was positive.

Public records show he attended a stamp unveiling, youth tennis event and granted a media interview around the time he got tested and his latest infection was confirmed.

Djokovic is the Australian Open’s top seed and a nine-time winner of the tournament. He had been practicing just hours before Hawke’s decision was announced.

The visa cancellation effectively means Djokovic would be barred from obtaining a new Australian visa for three years, except under exceptional circumstances, ruling him out of one of the four Grand Slam tournaments during that time.

He is currently tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal with 20 Grand Slam titles each.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Friday accused Australia of “mistreating” the country’s biggest star, and a national hero.

“If you wanted to ban Novak Djokovic from winning the 10th trophy in Melbourne why didn’t you return him immediately, why didn’t you tell him ‘it is impossible to obtain a visa’?” Vucic said on Instagram.

“Novak, we stand by you!”

Spanish great Nadal took a swipe at his rival on Saturday as players complained the scandal was overshadowing the opening Grand Slam of the year.

“The Australian Open is much more important than any player,” Nadal told reporters at Melbourne Park.

“Australian Open will be a great Australian Open with or without him.”

Defending Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka called the Djokovic saga “unfortunate” and “sad” and said it could be the defining moment of his career.

“I think it’s an unfortunate situation. He’s such a great player and it’s kind of sad that some people might remember (him) in this way,” she said.

Djokovic Wins Australia Visa Case, Judge Orders His Release

Police stand guard outside a government detention centre where Serbia’s tennis champion Novak Djokovic is staying in Melbourne on January 10, 2022, while Djokovic challenged the cancellation of his visa over Covid rules in court. William WEST / AFP

 

World number one Novak Djokovic won a stunning victory Monday over the Australian government, overturning the cancellation of the tennis star’s visa on Covid-19 health grounds, and ending his detention.

It was an extraordinary setback for the Australian government, which has imposed strict pandemic requirements on arriving foreign travellers for the past two years.

But the Australian government’s lawyer told the court that Immigration Minister Alex Hawke may still decide to use his “personal power of cancellation” despite the player’s victory.

The 34-year-old Djokovic arrived in Melbourne last week ahead of the Australian Open, which starts in just one week, hoping to win a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title.

READ ALSO: Mourinho Bemoans ‘Too Weak, Too Nice’ Players After Juve Collapse

But instead of a champion’s welcome, officers at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport decided the unvaccinated star had failed to present a solid medical reason for not being jabbed.

Djokovic’s visa was revoked and he was moved to a notorious immigration detention facility pending deportation.

In an emergency online court hearing Monday, the judge said the government side had agreed to drop its visa decision and he ordered Djokovic’s immediate release.

“Such release must occur no later than 30 minutes after the making of this order,” he said.

Djokovic has been in detention at the former Park Hotel, a five-storey facility that holds about 32 migrants trapped in Australia’s hardline immigration system — some for years on end.

An early plea by Djokovic to be moved to a facility where he can train for the Australian Open had fallen on deaf ears, his lawyers said.

 ‘Not human conditions’

The court’s finding, read out in an online hearing, recalled that Djokovic was interviewed overnight at Melbourne airport after his arrival late on Wednesday night.

In the early hours of the next morning, the player was told he had until 8:30 am to reply to the proposed cancellation of his visa. But instead, the border agent cancelled it at 7:42 am.

If Djokovic had been given until 8:30 am as first promised, “he could have consulted others and made submissions to the delegate about why his visa should not be cancelled,” the judge said.

Though the hearing was held online, a small group of Djokovic fans gathered outside the federal court building, waving a Serbian flag, holding up a photo of their hero and dancing to the tune of an accordion.

Earlier, at a rally in Belgrade, Djokovic’s mother Dijana claimed her son was staying “in not human conditions” during his four-night stay at the detention centre.

“They detained him and even don’t give him breakfast, he has only lunch and dinner,” she said, quoted by local media.

“He does not have a normal window, he stares at a wall.”

Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said this weekend that after “constructive talks” with her Australian counterpart “we managed that he gets gluten-free food, exercise equipment, a laptop.”

Though it had no bearing on his court case, Djokovic’s claim of a positive test on December 16 stirred controversy after it emerged he had attended a gathering that day for the Serbian national postal service launching a stamp series in his honour.

Pictures shared by the Belgrade tennis federation also showed him at a young players’ event in the city on December 17.

It reported that he had handed over cups and prizes to players. No one was wearing a mask.

Another tennis player — Czech doubles specialist Renata Voracova — has also had her visa cancelled after obtaining a medical exemption.

She flew out of Australia on Saturday after being held in the same Melbourne centre as Djokovic.

AFP

Djokovic Tested Positive To COVID-19 In December, Lawyers Tell Court

File photo of Novak Djokovic.    PHOTO: Anne-Christine POUJOULAT/AFP

 

Tennis superstar Novak Djokovic was given a COVID-19 vaccine exemption because he tested positive for the virus in December, his lawyers said in a court filing Saturday, three days after Australian border agents placed him in a Melbourne detention centre.

The world number one has also requested to be moved to a facility where he can train for the Australian Open, his lawyers said, after a vaccine exemption to play the tournament was rejected.

“The date of the first positive Covid PCR test was recorded on 16 December 2021,” his lawyers said in a filing to the federal court seeking to overturn the cancellation of his Australian entry visa.

READ ALSO: Mane, Ndidi And Other Stars To Watch At The Cup Of Nations

Djokovic, an outspoken vaccine sceptic, will have his appeal heard in court on Monday.

Border agents tore up Djokovic’s entry visa for failing to meet the country’s tough Covid-19 vaccine requirements when he landed in Melbourne on Wednesday.

Foreigners are still mostly banned from travel to Australia, and those granted entry must be fully vaccinated or have a medical exemption.

AFP

Djokovic Fights Deportation After Australia Canceled His Visa

 

File Photo of Serbia’s Novak Djokovic (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

 

Tennis world number one Novak Djokovic won a temporary reprieve in his deportation from Australia on Thursday but is set to spend the night in an immigration detention facility as he fights to remain in the country.

The vaccine-skeptic Serb was detained on arrival at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport having failed to “provide appropriate evidence” of double vaccination or a medical exemption.

Djokovic had jetted into Melbourne on Wednesday hoping to defend his Australian Open crown and to bid for an unprecedented 21st Grand Slam title, despite Australia’s tough Covid restrictions.

Instead of a conquering champion’s welcome, he was questioned at the airport overnight before having his visa revoked and being transferred to a Melbourne immigration detention facility.

After an emergency court appeal, a judge ordered that the controversial star would not be deported before Monday when a final hearing will be held.

– From court to court –
For months there had been speculation about whether Djokovic would play in the January 17-30 tournament.

Then, ahead of his arrival, a jubilant Djokovic boasted on Instagram that he had scored an unexpected medical exemption to play.

The 34-year-old has refused to reveal his vaccine status but has previously voiced opposition to being jabbed. He has contracted Covid at least once.

Amid widespread outcry at Djokovic’s apparent star treatment, conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison said “rules are rules and there are no special cases.”

Australians have been unable to travel or welcome family from overseas for much of the last two years.

Stephen Parnis, a former Australian Medical Association vice-president, said the exemption sent an “appalling message” to people trying to stop the rampant spread of Covid-19.

The country recorded more than 60,000 cases in the last 24 hours, after being Covid-free for much of the pandemic.

– Djokovic, justice and truth –
But the Serb’s treatment on arrival prompted fury among his fans and a fiercely worded rebuke from Serbia’s president.

“The whole of Serbia is with him and… our authorities are undertaking all measures in order that maltreatment of the world’s best tennis player ends as soon as possible,” President Aleksandar Vucic said after speaking with Djokovic over the phone.

“In line with all standards of international public law, Serbia will fight for Novak Djokovic, justice and truth.”

Sanja, a 35-year-old Serbian-Australian fan, had been looking forward to seeing him play in Melbourne.

“He went through a civil war to play tennis. He’s done nothing wrong to the world,” she said.

For his part, Rafael Nadal — who like Djokovic and Federer is stuck on a record-equalling 20 Grand Slam wins — said his rival must face the consequences of not being vaccinated.

“He made his own decisions, and everybody is free to take their own decisions, but then there are some consequences,” the Spaniard said.

– ‘No special favour’ –
Djokovic is believed to be detained at the Park Hotel, which the Australian government terms an “Alternative Place of Detention”.

As word of Djokovic’s arrival spread, Serbian flag-festooned supporters, anti-vaccine campaigners, refugee advocates and police descended on the already controversial facility.

Supporter Gordana said she was there to show support and to “free Djokovic to play.”

Currently around 32 refugees and asylum seekers are being held at the Park Hotel, after being brought for medical treatment from offshore detention facilities.

Detainees cannot leave the hotel and nobody is allowed in or out except staff.

The facility gained notoriety last year when a fire in the building forced refugees and asylum seekers to be evacuated, and maggots were allegedly found in the food.

In October, 21 men reportedly contracted Covid at the facility, which has been the site of regular protests.

Detainee Mehdi Ali told AFP that Djokovic is his favourite tennis player, and that he was saddened by the prospect of the star being held there.

“The media will talk about us more, the whole world probably, which is so sad, just because Djokovic would be here for a few days,” he said.

Australia’s leaders — wary of public sentiment and mounting Covid problems ahead of an election — have begun pointing fingers over the saga.

John Findley, an Australian immigration lawyer, said the visa revocation was questionable and seems to have come from “a pile on from social media.”

“If they see he has provided false information, he must have a chance to answer that,” he said.

Experts said that charge could bring a three-year ban from applying for another Australian visa.

With 10 days before the tournament begins, it is far from clear that Djokovic will be able to play, even if he wins his challenge.

Judge Anthony Kelly warned that justice will move at its own pace, and through all necessary appeals. “The tail won’t be tagging the dog here,” he said.

Tournament organisers also face tough questions.

Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley said Djokovic had no special treatment and just 26 of the approximately 3,000 players and support staff travelling to Australia for the tournament had applied for a vaccine exemption. Only a handful had been successful.

Those individuals also look set to face added scrutiny now.

Australia To Deport Djokovic Over COVID-19 Vaccination

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic leaves the court after being defeated by Germany’s Alexander Zverev in their Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games men’s singles semifinal tennis match at the Ariake Tennis Park in Tokyo on July 30, 2021. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

 

Australia said Thursday it had cancelled the entry visa of Novak Djokovic, opening the way to his detention and removal in a dramatic reversal for the tennis world number one.

The vaccine-sceptic Serb had landed in Melbourne a few hours earlier, after celebrating on social media that he had a medical exemption to play in the Australian Open without proof he was fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

The exemption, granted by tournament organisers after his application had been cleared by two medical panels, sparked fury among Australians who have endured lockdowns and restrictions for two years.

READ ALSO: Liverpool’s Clash With Arsenal Postponed 

But the nine-time Australian Open champion, who touched down at Melbourne airport late Wednesday, never got past border control.

“Mr Djokovic failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements to Australia, and his visa has been subsequently cancelled,” the Australian Border Force said in a statement.

“Non-citizens who do not hold a valid visa on entry or who have had their visa cancelled will be detained and removed from Australia,” it added.

“The Australian Border Force will continue to ensure that those who arrive at our border comply with our laws and entry requirements.”

AFP

Djokovic Wins Record 37th Masters Crown

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic returns the ball to Russia’s Daniil Medvedev during their men’s single final tennis match on the last day of the ATP Paris Masters at The AccorHotels Arena in Paris on November 7, 2021. Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP

 

World number one Novak Djokovic won a sixth Paris title and record 37th Masters crown on Sunday, beating 2020 champion Daniil Medvedev 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the final.

The 34-year-old Serbian gained a measure of revenge over his Russian opponent who dashed his dreams of a Grand Slam sweep when he beat him in the US Open final in September.

The Masters title secured Djokovic’s second record in as many days after he was confirmed as season-ending world number one for the seventh time.

Medvedev said Djokovic — who he calls his “friend” — was stronger on the crucial points.

“I don’t like losing so I cannot say I am happy, I don’t even like losing at Play Station!” said Medvedev at his press conference.

“But I gave everything and maybe I could have done a winner here or there or served one or two more aces.

“When you lose a match you always have the feeling that you can do a bit better. The trouble was Novak won the crucial points and apart from the first set I did not.

“However, I take consolation in having given everything against the best player in the world of all time. It was a good battle.”

In an entertaining contest, befitting a duel between the top two in the world, Djokovic again had to come back from a set down after needing three sets to beat Hubert Hurkacz in the semi-finals.

It was only the second time the top two in the ATP rankings had clashed in the Paris final.

Sunday’s crowd got better value than French fans on the previous occasion in 1990 when Boris Becker retired injured at 3-3 in the first set against then number one Stefan Edberg.

The pivotal game on Sunday came as Djokovic served to level the match, saving two break points before securing the second set on his third set point after 11 minutes.

 ‘Serbian spectator’

Djokovic pressed home the advantage, breaking Medvedev twice in the deciding set to move to 5-2 with the Russian showing his frustration by firing a ball into the crowd and having words with the umpire as he sat down.

“Just before I hit the serve, so you cannot really stop the motion, somebody screams something,” Medvedev said.

“So, yeah, I got mad because the crucial, crucial moment, 5-2 for him, double break, even if I manage to get the break back, we all know that against Novak it’s tough to actually come back from this score,” said Medvedev.

“I got mad because it was not nice, and it was done on purpose.

“It was done by Serbian spectator,” Medvedev said.

“I hope he doesn’t watch tennis anymore.”

That appeared to briefly fire Medvedev up as he got a break back in the next game but his serve once again let him down and it was Djokovic who raised his arms in celebration.

Medvedev will defend his ATP Finals title in Turin beginning in a week’s time but he said he would not be affected by this loss should he end up playing Djokovic again there.

“I have been beaten by Rublev, Dimitrov and now Novak in recent weeks but when I next face them I won’t be thinking they have a psychological advantage over me,” he said.

“I always go into any match regardless of the opponent with a desire and thinking also I can win.”

UPDATED: Medvedev Defeats Djokovic To Win US Open Men’s Final

Medvedev Defeats Djokovic To Win US Open Men’s Final
Daniil Medvedev celebrates with the championship trophy after defeating Novak Djokovic to win the US Open Men’s Singles final match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center In New York on September 12, 2021.  Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/AFP

 


Daniil Medvedev shattered Novak Djokovic’s Grand Slam dream with a straight-sets victory in the US Open final on Sunday, denying the world number one a record-breaking 21st major men’s singles title.

Russia’s second-ranked Medvedev dominated Djokovic 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to prevent the first calendar-year Grand Slam since 1969 and keep Djokovic level with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal atop the career Slam title list.

“Sorry for you fans and Novak because we all know what he was going for,” Medvedev said.

“What you have accomplished in your career… for me, you are the greatest tennis player in history.”

Medvedev, the 2019 US Open runner-up, captured his first Grand Slam title in his third Slam final, a rematch of February’s Australian Open final, won in straight sets by the 34-year-old Serbian to launch his Slam quest.

“Congratulations to Daniil. Amazing match,” Djokovic said. “If there’s anyone that deserves a Grand Slam title right now, it’s you.”

Djokovic’s bid to sweep the US, French and Australian Opens, and Wimbledon in the same year for the first time since Rod Laver did it 52 years ago collapsed at the last hurdle, with 83-year-old Aussie legend Laver among 23,700 watching at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

READ ALSO: 18-Year-Old Raducanu Wins Women’s US Open Final

Medvedev Defeats Djokovic To Win US Open Men’s Final
Novak Djokovic (L) holds the runner-up trophy alongside Daniil Medvedev who celebrates with the championship trophy after winning the match. Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/AFP

 

 

Djokovic missed out on his fourth US Open title and will enter 2022 tied with “Big Three” rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, both absent with injuries, on an all-time record 20 men’s Slam titles.

A tearful Djokovic paid tribute to the crowd that roared support for him even when all seemed lost down two sets and two breaks.

“Even though I have not won the match, my heart is filled with joy and I’m the happiest man alive because you guys have made me feel special on the court,” Djokovic said.

“You guys touch my soul. I’ve never felt like this in New York.”

Instead of joining immortals Laver and Don Budge, who completed the first men’s Slam in 1938, Djokovic became the third man to fall at the final match attempting to complete the Slam after Australians Jack Crawford in 1933 and Lew Hoad in 1956.

Djokovic saw his 27-match Slam win streak halted three victories shy of the record he set in 2015 and 2016 when he won four consecutive Slams, ending with the 2016 French Open.

Medvedev, 25, became the third Russian man to win a Grand Slam title after Yevgeny Kafelnikov at the 1996 French Open and 1999 Australian Open and Marat Safin at the 2000 US Open and 2005 Australian Open.

Struggle from the start

In the biggest of Djokovic’s 1,176 career matches, he made two unforced forehand errors to surrender a break in the first game to Medvedev, who held through to take the first set in 36 minutes, never facing a break point.

It was the fifth consecutive match in which Djokovic dropped the first set.

Medvedev dropped only three points on his serve in the first set but lost that many to open his first service game in the second.

Djokovic, however, squandered his break chances and Medvedev held to 1-1.

Medvedev hit a backhand wide to give Djokovic a break chance in the fourth game but he netted a forehand volley.

After botching a forehand on the following point, Djokovic shattered his racquet and on the next sent a backhand long as Medvedev held to 2-2.

In the fifth game, Djokovic mis-hit a backhand volley to hand Medvedev a break and a 3-2 lead, and the Russian held three times to claim the set.

Medvedev broke to begin the third set and again in the third game when a botched volley seemed to signal the end of the Slam chase.

Djokovic held at love in the fifth game but Medvedev held again to 5-1 and served for the match in the eighth game.

Medvedev double-faulted on championship point and again, then netted a forehand to surrender a break that kept Djokovic in the match.

“It was not easy,” Medvedev said.

Serving again for the match at 5-4, Medvedev double-faulted on his second match point but finally got over the line on his third chance with a service winner after two hours and 16 minutes.

AFP

Djokovic To Play For Grand Slam Against Medvedev In US Open Final

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates after winning his 2021 US Open Tennis tournament men’s semifinal match against Germany’s Alexander Zverev at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York, on September 10, 2021. (Photo by Kena Betancur / AFP)

 

 

Novak Djokovic will play Daniil Medvedev to try and complete the first men’s singles calendar-year Grand Slam since 1969 after defeating Tokyo Olympic champion Alexander Zverev in Friday’s US Open semi-finals.

Top-ranked Djokovic outlasted the German fourth seed 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 to reach Sunday’s championship match at Arthur Ashe Stadium against Russian second seed Medvedev.

“I’m going to treat the next match like it’s the last match of my career,” Djokovic said.

One more victory will give the 34-year-old Serbian star the first calendar-year Slam since Rod Laver accomplished it 52 years ago.

“There s only one more match left. All in. Let’s do it,” Djokovic said. “I’m going to put my heart and my soul and my body and my head into that one.”

Djokovic seeks his fourth career US Open title and his 21st overall Slam crown, which would lift him one above the all-time record he shares with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, both absent with injuries.

“These are the moments we live for,” Djokovic said. “These are the kind of unique opportunities we dream of when we are looking for motivation.”

Australian legend Laver, 83, was in the stands to watch as Djokovic took a measure of revenge for Zverev, 24, beating him in an Olympic semi-final, denying Djokovic’s bid for a “Golden Slam” with a Tokyo gold medal.

“I knew coming onto the court it was going to be a great battle,” Djokovic said. “Alexander is a big champion. He’s someone I admire on and off the court.”

Russia’s Daniil Medvedev hits a return to Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime during their 2021 US Open Tennis tournament men’s semifinal match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York, on September 10, 2021. TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP

 

Medvedev, the 2019 US Open runner-up, defeated Canadian 12th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 to reach his third career Slam final.

“I don’t think I played my best today but I’m really happy to be in the final,” Medvedev said.

Djokovic is the oldest US Open finalist since Andre Agassi at 35 in 2005 and could be the oldest US Open champion since Ken Rosewall at 35 in 1970.

By beating Zverev, Djokovic matched Federer’s all-time record of 31 men’s Slam final appearances. Djokovic is 20-10 in major finals.

The final is a rematch of February’s Australian Open final won by Djokovic in straight sets. Medvedev trails Djokovic 5-3 in their all-time rivalry.

“If I can make this, I’ll probably be in the history books a little bit somewhere like not letting him do this,” Medvedev said. “But I don’t really care about it. I think it’s more about him, that it affects him.

“I’m just going to throw it everything and I’m definitely not going to be thinking about Grand Slam or whatever.”

Djokovic has won 27 consecutive Slam matches, three shy of his all-time record streak from 2015 and 2016 when he won all four major titles in a row.

Zverev, last year’s US Open runner-up, saw his 16-match win streak end.

In the fifth set, Djokovic broke after an extended rally with a forehand passing winner to 2-0 and Zverev swatted back-to-back forehands long to go down 4-0. Djokovic broke again in the eighth to book his date with history after three hours and 34 minutes.

Djokovic double-faulted away a break in the ninth game and Zverev held to claim the first set in 36 minutes.

Having dropped the first set for the fourth consecutive match, Djokovic dominated the second, never facing a break point.

A 10th-game groundstrokes battle in the third set saw a 53-shot rally ended by a Zverev forehand winner to save set point and draw a roar from the crowd, but Djokovic hit an overhead smash on the next point for the break to capture the set.

In the fourth, Zverev broke to 2-1 with a forehand winner and held from there.

 

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic (R) hugs with Germany’s Alexander Zverev after winning their 2021 US Open Tennis tournament men’s semifinal match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York, on September 10, 2021. (Photo by Kena Betancur / AFP)

 

Breaking Mentally

Auger-Aliassime lost two set points and was broken in the ninth game of the second set and Medvedev broke again at love on the way to taking the set to seize command of the match.

“I knew I had to do everything at my best because at that point in the match I knew I could break him mentally and that’s what happened,” Medvedev said.

In all Medvedev took 11 of the final 13 games, ending matters with an overhead smash after two hours and four minutes.

“I had to play my best level and even better if I wanted to get a chance to win,” Auger-Aliassime said. “I didn’t do it long enough. Overall Daniil was the better player.”

US Open Tennis: Men’s Semi-Final Head-To-Heads

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 08: Alexander Zverev of Germany returns against Lloyd Harris of South Africa during his Men’s Singles quarterfinals match on Day Ten of the 2021 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 08, 2021 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. Elsa/Getty Images/AFP

 

Head-to-head prior results for the US Open men’s semi-finals (x denotes seed):

Daniil Medvedev (RUS x2) v. Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN x12)

Medvedev leads 1-0

2018 Toronto Hard R32 Medvedev 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (9/7)

Alexander Zverev (GER x4) v. Novak Djokovic (SRB x1)

Djokovic leads 6-3

2017 Rome Clay F Zverev 6-4, 6-3

2018 Shanghai Hard SF Djokovic 6-2, 6-1

2018 ATP Finals Hard RR Djokovic 6-4, 6-1

2018 ATP Finals Hard F Zverev 6-4, 6-3

2019 French Open Clay QF Djokovic 7-5, 6-2, 6-2

2020 ATP Finals Hard RR Djokovic 6-3, 7-6 (7/4)

2021 ATP Cup Hard RR Djokovic 6-7 (3/7), 6-2, 7-5

2021 Australian Open Hard QF Djokovic 6-7 (6/8), 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (8/6)

2021 Olympics Hard SF Zverev 1-6, 6-3, 6-1

Novak Djokovic’s Golden Slam Hopes For Comeback Win At Olympics, Dashed

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic leaves the court after being defeated by Germany’s Alexander Zverev in their Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games men’s singles semifinal tennis match at the Ariake Tennis Park in Tokyo on July 30, 2021. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

 

 

Novak Djokovic’s bid for a calendar Golden Grand Slam was dramatically ended by Alexander Zverev in the Olympics men’s singles semi-finals on Friday.

The world number one collapsed from a set and a break ahead as German fourth seed Zverev won 1-6, 6-3, 6-1 to set up a Sunday final against Russian Karen Khachanov.

The 34-year-old Djokovic has never won the Olympic singles title.

The Serbian star had already captured the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon trophies this year and needed Olympic gold and the US Open crown to emulate Steffi Graf, who achieved the feat in 1988, by winning the Golden Slam.

But his attempt to make history came to a close as Zverev powered 30 winners past the usually impregnable Djokovic in a stunning display.

It was yet more heartbreak for the 20-time Grand Slam champion at the Olympics, where his best result is a bronze medal in 2008.

He lost to eventual winner Andy Murray in the semi-finals in London nine years ago, and was in tears after a first-round exit to Juan Martin del Potro at the 2016 Rio Games.

Zverev is looking to become the first German to win singles gold since Graf in Seoul after winning 10 of the last 11 games against Djokovic.

– Djokovic makes fast start –
Djokovic, roared on by a large contingent of his Serbian Olympic teammates, took the first set in trademark fashion by winning most of the big points.

The score made it look comfortable, but he was taken to deuce in his first three service games and had to save an early break point.

Zverev again put Djokovic’s serve under pressure in the early stages of the second set, but the top seed wriggled out of trouble in the fourth game and broke in the next.

Zverev dumped a simple volley into the net on break point and hammered the ball into the empty stands in frustration.

That looked to be the final nail in his coffin, but the 24-year-old bounced back immediately with a break to love as Djokovic uncharacteristically played an error-strewn game at a vital time.

The momentum had suddenly swung in Zverev’s favour and he quickly broke again, before taking his second set point to force a decider with a run of four straight games.

Any thoughts that Zverev would feel the tension were dispelled in the opening game of the third set as he broke once more.

He dug deep to consolidate his breakthrough and make it six consecutive games, saving four break points, the third of which after a stunning rally, finished off by a backhand passing shot up the line.

That proved to be the decisive moment, as Zverev then sealed a double break to put one foot in the final, with Djokovic reacting angrily after shanking a groundstroke long.

He finally snapped an eight-game losing streak, but his Olympic dream was already in tatters, and Zverev sealed a final place on his second match point with a rasping backhand.

Djokovic could still win multiple medals, with the bronze-medal match against Pablo Carreno Busta to come on Saturday after his mixed doubles semi-final with Nina Stojanovic against Elena Vesnina and Aslan Karatsev later Friday.

– Khachanov sees off Carreno Busta –
Khachanov, a former top-10 player who has struggled for consistency in the last three seasons, produced an impressive display earlier to dispatch Carreno Busta 6-3, 6-3.

Khachanov is bidding to become the first Russian champion in the men’s singles since Yevgeny Kafelnikov struck gold in Sydney 21 years ago.

“It’s just pure happiness, pleasure to be here to live those moments, these kind of memories will stay forever,” the 25-year-old, who reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals earlier this month, said.

Marcus Daniell and Michael Venus became New Zealand’s first Olympic tennis medallists for 109 years, beating Americans Austin Krajicek and Tennys Sandgren 7-6 (7/3), 6-2 in the men’s doubles bronze-medal match.

Women’s world number one Ashleigh Barty’s third and final attempt to win a gold medal was ended after defeat alongside John Peers in the mixed doubles semi-finals against Russians Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Andrey Rublev.