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3 Feb, 2022 11:54

Djokovic promises to reveal details of Australian deportation nightmare

Novak Djokovic met with Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade on Thursday
Djokovic promises to reveal details of Australian deportation nightmare

Novak Djokovic says he will soon reveal more details on his version of events following his deportation from Australia, as the world number one met Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade.

Vucic was among the most vocal supporters of Djokovic during his ordeal Down Under last month, accusing the Australian authorities of pursuing a politically motivated “witch hunt” against the tennis star.  

Djokovic was afforded a hero’s welcome on his return to Belgrade and has since been mobbed by fans on a visit to Montenegro, where he visited several sacred Orthodox sites.

On Thursday, the 34-year-old ace sat down with Vucic in front of the cameras as Djokovic thanked the leader for his support during what he described as an “unfortunate event.”

“I wanted to meet with you today because, primarily as a citizen of Serbia, I felt a great need to thank you for great support that you, as the president of Serbia, gave me, as well as all state institutions during the unfortunate events in Australia,” said a grateful Djokovic, AP reported. 

“Although I was alone in detention, and faced with many problems and challenges, I wasn’t feeling lonely. I had huge support primarily from my family, all of the close people in my life, entire Serbian nation, many people with good intentions from the region and the world.”

Djokovic urged his fans to be patient and said he would give more details on what transpired in Australia in an address to the public “within seven to 10 days.”

Vucic praised the 20-time Grand Slam champion for his stoicism during the two-week saga.

“Thank you for the great fight you fought in Australia,” Vucic told Djokovic, adding that the Serbian sporting icon had been “ready to fight not only for himself, but for his country.”

Serbian officials on Wednesday moved to reject claims by the BBC and German media that there were doubts over the validity of the Covid tests Djokovic had taken in December and which were used as the basis for his medical exemption to compete in Australia.

The BBC investigated why Djokovic’s initial positive test, taken on December 16, had a higher confirmation code than his negative test on December 22.

The British organization claimed the findings ‘cast doubt’ over the timing of the tests, although the Serbian Prosecutor's Office carried out checks by contacting Serbia's Ministry of Health to verify the accuracy of the data, determining that they were “authentic.”

The tests were not part of the case argued by the Australian government in its decision to deport Djokovic.

Instead, it was initially argued that Djokovic’s medical exemption to compete in Melbourne – granted by Tennis Australia and Victoria state authorities – was not sufficient a federal level.

After Djokovic won an initial court case and was freed from detention, he was detained again and eventually deported after the personal intervention of Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, who argued that the presence of the unvaccinated star in the country would agitate sentiments among anti-vaxxers.

Djokovic was absent as Spanish rival Nadal claimed a record 21st Grand Slam title in Melbourne – moving him one ahead of the Serb and fellow great Roger Federer in the all-time standings.

Djokovic’s biographer, Daniel Muksch, has claimed that the star is set to get vaccinated in the wake of Nadal’s triumph.

"What you hear from his environment, I think he's getting vaccinated," Muksch is said to have commented on a TV show. 

Djokovic is scheduled to make a return to competitive action at the ATP Tour event in Dubai which begins on February 21.

Vucic expressed confidence in Thursday’s meeting that Djokovic will restore parity with Nadal in the race for the most career Grand Slam titles.

Djokovic himself issued a graceful social media message on Sunday congratulating Nadal on his landmark achievement, after the 35-year-old fought back from two sets down to defeat Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in an epic Melbourne final.