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Eight Questions For Novak Djokovic

So far Djokovic has been anything but transparent. His positive COVID-19 result was made known by the lawyers, not him. He trusted Craig Tiley’s assurances that he misinformed him. Here are the questions we would ask him.

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Novak Djokovic at the 2021 Rolex Paris Masters (Credit: Roberto Dell'Olivo)

By Roberto Ferri

For several weeks the troubled events relating Novak Djokovic and his participation in the Australian Open have been taking place.

 

For the few who still do not know them, I will summarize them briefly.

In order to take part in the 2022 edition of the Australian Open it is necessary to have completed the vaccination cycle against Covid-19 or, alternatively, to have requested from the competent local medical authorities a certificate of exemption.

On January 4, Djokovic announced in a post that he had obtained medical exemption and was on his way to Australia. Some may say it was kind of naive post, but it’s hard to believe that it was his responsibility to check consistency between the exemption that had got and the Australian federal laws.

Before his arrival at the Melbourne airport, the Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison – perhaps under the pressure of a large part of national and international public opinion who had immediately expressed their discontent with this concession – declared: “Djokovic will be sent home on the first plane if he is unable to provide sufficient evidence to support his exemption from vaccination ”.

Djokovic arrived in Melbourne on January 5th but his visa to enter the country is rejected by the border authorities.

Tension rose between Australia and Serbia with the Serbian government summoning the Australian ambassador.

Djokovic’s lawyers are appealing against the visa refusal; the judge in charge of examining the appeal reserves the right to make a decision on Monday 10th January.

While awaiting the sentence, Djokovic is accompanied to a hotel of the lowest level; many fans of the champion gather in front of the hotel to protest in his favour.

In Serbia, Djokovic’s father made a series of statements in which he compares his son to Spartacus and Jesus, we assume not necessarily in this order of importance.

In the meantime, through the papers supporting the appeal filed with the Melbourne court, we learn that Djokovic had requested an exemption because he recently recovered from COVID and that he had obtained it from the Medical Director of Tennis Australia on December 30th. In the same documents we read that Djokovic’s positivity to COVID was ascertained through a molecular test carried out on December 16th.

If we (UbiTennis) had the chance, I would like to put these eight 8 questions to the Serbian champion:

1- The documents filed by your lawyers state that on December 16th you took the test for COVID 19. Why did you take it that very day?

2- On what day did you know your test result?

3- In this circumstance you considered it appropriate not to publicly reveal your positive result unlike what you did in June 2020. Why?

4- Between the day you learned about your positivity and the following days did you take part in public events?

5- If you took part in public events, what precautions did you take to avoid transmitting the infection?

6- When you arrived at Melbourne airport did you have complete documentation that provided all the evidence supporting the exemption?

7- If you had not contracted COVID you would have not been able to apply for vaccine exemption; what alternative strategy did you plan to participate to the Australian Open?

8- Would you get vaccinated if it were the only option to be able to take part in ATP and ITF tournaments during 2022?

Is Novak Djokovic going to answer them?

Only time will tell.

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Felix Auger-Aliassime Survives Australian Open Marathon

For a second time this week the Canadian was pushed but managed to win a tough four-set match against his Spanish opponent.

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Felix Auger-Aliassime (Manuela Davies/USTA)

Felix Auger-Aliassime booked his spot in the third round of the Australian Open after beating Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 7-6, 6-7, 7-6, 7-6 in a match that lasted four hours and 20 minutes.

 

The Montreal native hit 58 winners and served 28 aces while Davidovich Fokina hit 51 unforced errors. It is the second time the 21-year-old has reached the last 32 in Melbourne Park in what is his third appearence.

The first game of the match was a nervy one for the world number nine as it lasted six minutes and it involved him saving two breakpoints before being able to hold serve. The opener stayed on serve until 2-2 when the Fokina came up with an impressive passing shot to set up two more chances for the first break of serve of the match and this time managed to convert. Three games later the Canadian fought back and broke right back to go back on serve.

It was a tiebreak which decided the first set. The Montreal native jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the Spaniard came back again to win the next four points but the Canadian responded again winning three straight points to take the breaker 7-4 and the first set.

The second set was another impressive performance on serve by both players and once again was decided by a back and forth breaker that this time was won by Davidovich Fokina to level the match.

The third frame was much the same as both players kept their level up and not much differentiated the two. This tiebreaker was much more straightforward as the Canadian jumped out to a 5-1 lead before closing out the third set 7-5 and taking two sets to one lead.

The fourth set stayed on serve until 2-1 when the world number 50 had a chance to break and was able to get it for a 3-1 lead before the Canadian was able to break back the following game to go back on serve.

For the fourth time, the set was decided by a tiebreaker and this one was super tight with the Canadian getting the crucial break to take a 4-3 lead and that one break was enough for him to serve it out.

Auger Aliassime will now face Dan Evans in the third round after the Brit was handed a walkover against Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech who pulled out of the match due to injury.

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‘Best Feeling I’ve Ever Had’ – Underdog Christopher O’Connell Stuns Schwartzman At Australian Open

Prior to this week the 27-year-old had never won a main draw match at Melbourne Park or beaten a top 20 player.

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Image via https://mobile.twitter.com/ESPNtenis

World No.175 Christopher O’Connell has pulled off a major upset at the Australian Open by knocking out 13th seed Diego Schwartzman.

 

The 27-year-old wild card had only ever won one match in the main draw of a Grand Slam prior to this year but illustrated the talent that he has with a 7-6, 6-4, 6-4, win over Schwartzman. A player who is currently ranked 162 places above him in the rankings. Against the Argentine he fired a total of 44 winners and won 75% of his first service points on route to claiming his first win over a top 20 player.

“It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had on a tennis court. I’ve been playing tennis since I was four. To have moments like this it’s a dream come true.” O’Connell said during his press conference.

Despite the straightforward score, the match itself was a marathon. The opener alone lasted for almost 90 minutes with the underdog saving three set points whilst down 4-5 before prevailing in the tiebreaker. Then in the following two sets he broke Schwartzman three times in total.

“I knew how crucial that first set was. It was really warming up out there. It was really a battle back and forth. It was crucial to get that first set, especially in the heat,” he said.

A late bloomer on the men’s Tour, the Australian started to make a breakthrough last year by reaching his first quarter-final at the Atlanta Open where he defeated Jannik Sinner. During that year he also reached the final of a French Challenger event before withdrawing due to injury and reached the second round of the US Open.

O’Connell, who has been ranked as high as 111th in the world, credits his coach for helping him reach new milestones in the sport. He is mentored by former player Marinko Matosevic who reached a ranking high of 39th back in 2013 and made more than $2M in prize money during his playing career.

“The process didn’t start yesterday. It’s been happening all of last year,” he stated.
“I’ve been working with Marinko. He’s just really confident with how I want to play tennis now. It’s the first time I’ve really had a one-on-one coach literally every day with me.’
“Marinko was such a great player. All his knowledge of the game, he’s just putting it onto me.”

Next up for O’Connell will be the in-form Maxime Cressy who lost to Rafael Nadal in the final of the Melbourne Summer Set just over a week ago. The American defeated Czech qualifier Tomáš Macháč 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(5), in his second round match.

“I knew I had good results in me. It’s just being consistent. I felt today was a consistent match from me,” he reflected.
“But the biggest thing for me is just staying healthy, not having these injuries where I miss two months of tournaments. I nearly missed five or six months last year. I can’t be doing that.’
“The belief is always there, but I just got to make sure my body’s healthy this year. I want to play a full year.”

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French Player Tests Positive For COVID-19 Hours After Australian Open Defeat

The world No.40 was preparing to leave the country.

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Image via https://twitter.com/HumbertUgo/

Ugo Humbert is in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 following his first round loss at the Australian Open on Tuesday.

 

Humbert, who was the 29th seed in the men’s draw, is understood to have produced a positive result during a routine procedure players have to conduct before they leave the country. It is unclear as to if he is currently suffering from any symptoms.

Humbert crashed out of the tournament to compatriot Richard Gasquet, who won their match 3-6, 7-6(4), 7-6 (3), 6-3, in three hours and 18 minutes. Gasquet also tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival in Australia earlier this month but was given the all clear to play at Melbourne Park following a negative test. There was a 15-day period between the 35-year-old announcing on Twitter he had the virus and his first match against Humbert.

“I was tested positive on my exit test yesterday and I’ll stay one more week in isolation in Australia,” Humbert wrote on Instagram.
“Thanks for your support and see you soon.”

The 23-year-old has started his season by winning one out of four matches played. Prior to the Australian Open, he scored one of the biggest wins of his career by defeating Daniil Medvedev at the ATP Cup in the group stages. However, following that victory he suffered losses to Alex de Minaur and Matteo Berrettini.

Tennis Australia is yet to comment on Humbert’s positive test.

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