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Djokovic to be deported amid visa drama

Novak Djokovic of Serbia leaves the court after losing to Alexander Zverev of Germany in their ATP World Tour Finals, singles semifinal, tennis match, at the Pala Alpitour in Turin, Italy, Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021. Zverev won 7-6/4-6/6-3. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

Novak Djokovic of Serbia leaves the court in Italy in November 2021 (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) 

Nine-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic is set to be deported after his visa was revoked by the Australian government.

The world No.1 is set to file an injunction to stop the deportation.

Djokovic was left stranded overnight in a police-guarded room at Melbourne airport amid a visa mix-up that could derail his hopes of defending his Australian Open title.

The extraordinary, escalating soap opera surrounding the world's best men's player arrived to a political storm and a visa controversy as he jetted into Tullamarine Airport after a 14-hour flight from Dubai.

Djokovic may have been armed with the vaccination exemption that will allow him to compete in Melbourne but apparently not with the correct visa to enter the country.

Djokovic was still awaiting permission early on Thursday after it emerged that his team had applied for a visa that does not allow for medical exemptions.

That prompted the local government of Victoria to say it would not support Djokovic's application, putting his fate in the hands of the federal government and Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

The situation left Djokovic's father Srdjan telling the Serbian B92 internet portal: "Novak is currently in a room which no one can enter. In front of the room are two policemen."

Djokovic's entourage includes his coach, 2001 Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic, who stated the obvious in a social media post after their arrival.

"Not the most usual trip from Down Under," he posted on Instagram with a selfie from an airport lounge, accompanied by face-palm and mind-blown emojis.

Djokovic, never a stranger to controversy, has found himself the subject of a major public backlash in Australia after revealing on Tuesday that he'd received the vaccination exemption which allowed him to bid for a record 21st major title Down Under.

But amid the storm, tournament director Craig Tiley insisted the world No.1 was getting no special treatment and Morrison said on Wednesday that Djokovic "would be on the next plane home" if he could not provide the proper evidence for his exemption.

Djokovic was embroiled in entry problems as Victoria's Acting Sports Minister Jaala Pulford confirmed the state government did not support his visa application - declaring on Twitter "visa approvals are a matter for the Federal Government, and medical exemptions are a matter for doctors" - effectively putting the 34-year-old's fate in the hands of federal government.

It was not clear whether the federal government would allow Djokovic's entry with a Border Force spokesperson quoted by local media saying: "(The) Victorian government claims are incorrect, ABF did not request (the) Victorian government support a visa.

"ABF reached in to Victorian government to validate their public statements about their support for his entry, and whether Victoria had further information related to his medical exemption documentation."

As Djokovic was left in isolation to ponder this astonishing start to his trip, there were also growing demands for him to clear up any doubts over the reasons for why he'd been given the exemption.

Rod Laver, fearing that Djokovic's participation on the court named after him at Melbourne Park could see passions running high, wants the Serb to open up.

"I think it might get ugly. I'd think the Victorian people would be thinking, 'Yes I'd love to see him play and compete but at the same time, there's a right way and a wrong way'.

"If he's got a reason for (the exemption) then ... we should know it."

Australia's world No.1 Ash Barty said: "I think it's a tough one. As we've seen a little bit in the last day or so, from the Australian public, I know how hard it has been for Australians... but in particular Victorians have had a real rough trot over the last 18 months and two years.

"I understand why they may be frustrated with the decision.

"Ultimately, I have no interest in speaking about Novak's medical history. It's not my decision. Those decisions are made. They're completely out of my control."

With agencies

© AAP 2022