Novak Djokovic had been a firm favorite in the odds to win the 2022 Australian Open, but not any more.
It is not often tennis makes global headlines on front pages as well as sports pages, but Djoker managed it over the past two weeks.
First he told the world he was coming to Australia with an exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine. When he landed though his visa was revoked (it was filled in incorrectly) and he was detained for five days pending a court appeal.
On Monday Djokovic had his day in court and he won, and then it looked like he was set to defend his title in Melbourne later this month.
Within hours though we had revelations that he did a media interview with French publication L’Equipe in December AFTER testing positive for COVID. And also was pictured with a bunch of kids at an event around the same time.
While this was happening, Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke was considering whether to override the court decision and cancel Djokovic’s visa anyway. These revelations made it a slam dunk.
And so, late on Friday local time, Hawke announced that Australia was canceling the visa, saying it was “in the public interest to do so”.
The story was not over though with Djokovic is again mounting a legal challenge to the latest decision. The ruling on that appeal finally came down Sunday – just 24 hours before the tournament proper was due to start in Melbourne. And it was bad for Djokovic.
Novak’s appeal against the cancellation of his visa was lost, with the Australian Government regaining the right to deport him. A ‘lucky loser’ will now take his place in the first-round draw.
Djokovic Odds to win Australian Open
Djokovic had been a firm +140 favorite (bet $100 to win $140) to claim a record 21st Grand Slam victory in Melbourne before Friday’s decision. He is currently tied on 20 with big rivals Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
A matchup with Nadal in Australia, should Novak notch another legal victory, would have been a beauty given the comments the Spaniard made about the Djokovic case in recent days. Instead, now we cannot be sure if the 34-year-old Serb will ever play in the Australian Open again.
The latest Australian Open men’s singles odds before this saga began were as follows (relevant sportsbook in brackets)
- +140 Novak Djokovic (DraftKings)
- +220 Daniil Medvedev (Unibet, SugarHouse)
- +350 Alexander Zverev (PointsBet, Unibet, SugarHouse)
- +1000 Rafael Nadal (widely available)
- +2800 Jannik Sinner (PointsBet)
- +2800 Stefanos Tsitsipas (PointsBet)
NB: Odds correct and updated on Monday January 10, 2022
Novak Djokovic Grand Slams
Those 20 Grand Slam titles won by the Serb have come over the space of the last 14 years.
‘Djoker’ won his first Slam in 2008 – the first of nine victories to date in Australia. He has since prevailed in Melbourne in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019, 2020 and 2021.
As with many greats, the clay of Roland Garros in Paris has been the toughest mountain for Djokovic to climb. He has ‘only’ two victories there, lifting the famous trophy in 2016 and 2021.
The grass of Wimbledon, England has been a happy hunting ground for Novak – he has six wins there, in 2011, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019 and 2021.
Flushing Meadows in New York has played host to three Djokovic victories at the US Open – in 2011, 2015 and 2018.