Djokovic wins case, could play at the Open

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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.

But there could yet be another twist in the saga that has captured global attention, with Immigration Minister Alex Hawke considering whether to exercise a personal power of cancellation over Djokovic's visa.

The world No.1 was freed from immigration detention late on Monday afternoon after Federal Court Judge Anthony Kelly ordered that the original decision to cancel his visa should be quashed and Djokovic be paid costs.

The order was made after lawyers for Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews conceded the decision of immigration officials to proceed with an early-morning airport interview with Djokovic and subsequently cancel his visa last week was unreasonable in the circumstances.

Djokovic was told at 5.20am on Thursday that he had until 8.30am to respond to a notice of intention to cancel his visa. His comments were sought instead at 6.14am.

The decision to cancel his visa was made just over an hour later.

Judge Kelly said if Djokovic had been given until 8.30am he could have consulted others about the decision.

He ordered that Djokovic must be released within 30 minutes of the order being made and that his passport and other personal effects be returned immediately.

But Christopher Tran, representing the government, said Immigration Minister Alex Hawke would now consider whether to exercise a personal power of cancellation over Djokovic's visa.

Judge Kelly said he would have been "something approaching incandescent" had he heard about that after the hearing.

He said it was "extraordinarily unlikely" any other judge could get up to speed with the case and he would need to know as soon as possible if there was going to be another proceeding on short notice.

He also pointed out that Djokovic's personal and professional reputation and economic interests may be directly affected.

"If this man is to be summarily removed upon the personal exercise of cancellation power, he cannot return to this country for three years," he said.

"I expect to be fully informed in advance if I am required to continue to be available for any further proceeding that is to be sought because on a view, the stakes have now risen rather than receded."

The controversy began following Djokovic's arrival in Australia late last Wednesday night after he declared he had a medical reason not to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Djokovic handed over exemption documents from Tennis Australia before being told about the notice of intention to cancel his visa.

"I arrived here because of these documents otherwise I wouldn't have been allowed to come in," Djokovic said, according to transcripts released by Judge Kelly.

"I mean, you kind of put me in a very awkward position where at four in the morning I can't call director of Tennis Australia, I can't engage with anybody from the Victorian state government through Tennis Australia. I just, you put me in a very uncomfortable position."

The tennis star's legal challenge was plagued by technical issues on Monday, with a live stream collapsing under the pressure of tens of thousands of people trying to watch.

But, despite Djokovic yet to be fully in the clear, Monday's outcome will come as huge relief for his legions of fans, including 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?"

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