Novak Djokovic news: World No 1 says reaction and ‘looks’ from fellow tennis players ‘really hurt me a lot’
Powerless, unpleasant and hurt are just some of the words that Novak Djokovic used to describe his Australian nightmare following his deportation from the country.
Several weeks after he was forced to leave Australia, the world No 1 finally opened up about his chaotic start to the year in a wide-ranging interview with the BBC.
The drama started when his visa was cancelled for a second time with Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke using his personal powers to revoke the document over fears that he would stoke anti-vaccination sentiment in the country.
Upon his arrival in Australia, Djokovic was questioned for several hours by Australian Border Force and his visa was cancelled, forcing him to spend several days in a detention facility after he decided to challenge the decision.
“It definitely wasn’t pleasant, but I don’t want to sit here and complain about conditions in that detention centre because I stayed seven days,” he told the BBC.
“I did feel powerless. When I arrived there, I wasn’t allowed to use my phone for three-four hours. It was the middle of the night, from 1am to 9am.
“I didn’t get any sleep because I was going through questioning every 30 minutes, basically. I had many, many interviews that were started and then stopped, then paused and then I waited for the person to speak to his superiors, then he would come back.
“It went on for the entire night. The visa was reinstated, first revoked, then reinstated, then revoked again.”
He won the first court case and left the detention centre for a few days, which afforded him the opportunity to train at Melbourne Park, but was far from a pleasant experience.
He added: “I was free for four days, and I was training, but it was not a regular kind of training days I would normally have prior to Grand Slam competitions.
“I had helicopters flying above every single training session that I had on Rod Laver Arena, cameras all over the place. Also, my colleagues, that really hurt me a lot.
“I felt that energy and those looks from my colleagues and people that were in the tennis facility, and obviously, I understand that they had a perception that was based on what they were seeing from media reports.
“[But] I wasn’t able and wasn’t going out to the media because of what I had previously said about respecting the legal process and respecting the Australian Open.”
A few days after he was freed Hawke revoked the visa for a second time and Djokovic again challenged the ruling in court, forcing him to return to the detention centre, but three judges then unanimously upheld the decision and he was forced to leave Australia.
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