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Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open matches could have a ‘contentious’ atmosphere unlike anything tennis has seen

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  • Novak Djokovic was released from an Australian detention center but could still face deportation.
  • If Djokovic plays in the Australian Open, some expect a contentious atmosphere during his matches.
  • Djokovic’s visa snafu has reached a boiling point among his supporters and critics.

Novak Djokovic’s future at the Australian Open is still up in the air, but if he is able to play, expect fireworks.

The world No. 1 was released from an immigration detention center on Monday and had his visa reinstated after a judge ruled that the cancellation of his visa was “unreasonable.” Djokovic had been held by authorities since Thursday as the Australian Border Force investigated his alleged exemption from being vaccinated against COVID-19.

Though Australian immigration minister Alex Hawke is weighing whether to deport Djokovic, in the meantime, the 20-time Grand Slam champion got in a closed-doors practice at Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday.

If Djokovic is allowed to remain in Australia and play in the tournament, tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg expects a scene unlike any tennis has experienced.

Speaking on BBC’s “The Sports Desk,” Rothenberg said he expects a “contentious” atmosphere.

“I am nervous and trepidatious for what a scene of a Djokovic match at the Australian Open in 2022 will be,” Rothenberg said. “Emotions are running so high … It’s not just gonna be a normal tennis crowd. The Serbs are gonna turn out to support him. It’s gonna be very polarized in both directions. It could be a really fractious, contentious atmosphere.”

Djokovic fans had rallied outside of the detention center in Melbourne where the star was being held to support him. As fans celebrated his release on Monday, police had to use pepper spray on rowdy crowds.

But many Australians also approved of the country’s handling of the star and had expressed disappointment when he said he had been given an exemption. Australia has implemented some of the strictest COVID protocols in the world, but is currently going through its worst outbreak of the pandemic.

Rothenberg noted that Djokovic rarely has majority crowd support in matches, saying: “The three most reliably crowd-supported people in tennis are, in order, Federer, Nadal, and whoever’s playing Djokovic. Crowds just gravitate against him.”

Rothenberg mentioned that in 2009, Bosnian and Serbian fans clashed at the Australian Open after Djokovic beat Amer Delic.

“Tennis is not something accustomed to these sorts of emotions or certainly not in the spectrum of hooliganism, if you want to put it in that category,” Rothenberg said. “It’s going to be weird.”

The Daily Mail reported on Tuesday that Australian Open organizers also fear violence at the tournament.

“Covering tennis for a long time, we don’t cause many riots, as a sport,” Rothenberg said. “So it’s disconcerting when it does happen. I hope that the emotions can ebb and calm down if Djokovic is in this tournament.”



Courtesy By INSIDER

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