Novak Djokovic is a step closer to defending his Australian Open crown and shooting for a record 21st grand slam singles title after winning his case against deportation.
The world No.1 will be freed from immigration after Federal Court Judge Anthony Kelly said he would order on Monday afternoon that the decision to cancel his visa should be quashed and Djokovic be paid costs.
“The decision to proceed with the interview and cancel that visa … was unreasonable,” Judge Kelly ordered after an agreement was reached by Djokovic’s legal team and lawyers for Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews.
He said Djokovic must be released within 30 minutes of the order being made.
But there could yet be another twist in the case that has captured global attention.
Christopher Tran for the Minister said the government would comply with the orders but a personal power of cancellation was being considered.
Judge Kelly said if the government, through another minister, exercised a personal power to cancel the visa, Djokovic would not be permitted to return to Australia for three years.
He demanded that if the government decided to enact the powers that they have threatened, the court was entitled to be informed.
Djokovic arrived in Australia late on Wednesday after declaring he had a medical reason not to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
But he was taken to immigration detention after having his visa cancelled early on Thursday morning.
Djokovic challenged that decision in a hearing before Judge Kelly, which was plagued by technical issues, with live streams collapsing under the pressure of tens of thousands of people trying to watch.
He was present with his lawyers for the hearing.
Monday’s outcome will come as huge relief for Djokovic’s legions of fans, including his family in Belgrade who have been staging daily rallies in the Serbian capital since their son’s ordeal began.
The saga has divided the tennis world and had left Djokovic’s quest for an unprecedented 21st men’s major this month at Melbourne Park in turmoil.
Andy Murray declared the whole episode “really bad” for tennis.
Murray, who has lost four Open finals to Djokovic, was left quite dismayed by the events of the past five days.
“I think everyone is shocked by it to be honest,” the former world No.1 told reporters.
“It’s really not good for tennis at all, and I don’t think it’s good for anyone involved. I think it’s really bad.
“Some stuff has come out that really doesn’t look good, either. I want to hear all the facts first before giving all of my thoughts on it.”
Murray’s thoughts had been echoed by other tennis stars including Australia’s most high-profile men’s player Nick Kyrgios, who said: “I’m feeling for him now. Like it’s not really humane, is it, what’s going on?”