Novak Djokovic Australian Open training session shrouded in secrecy, photos, video, updates, player reaction

Novak Djokovic has wasted no time getting back in the swing of of things but his training session at the Australian Open was held in secret.

Novak Djokovic trained at the Australian Open venue Tuesday as his search of a record 21st grand slam hung in the balance as the Federal government delayed making a decision on cancelling his visa again.

The world No. 1 had scored a surprise courtroom victory the day before, overturning the Australian government’s decision to cancel his visa on Covid-19 vaccination grounds.

But Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said he may cancel Djokovic’s visa once more.

The unvaccinated 34-year-old Serbian said he is now determined to stay in Melbourne and compete in the Australian Open, which starts in six days.

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“I flew here to play at one of the most important events we have in front of the amazing fans,” Djokovic wrote on Instagram on Monday.

Wearing a T-shirt and shorts, he limbered up in a gym on Tuesday accompanied by coach Goran Ivanisevic before heading to centre court, according to AFP.

The training session was believed to take place on Rod Laver Arena, the centre court at Melbourne Park.

But it was shrouded in secrecy with doors to the arena locked and the normal live camera feed cut off for the duration of Djokovic’s practice.

Television cameras filmed him from helicopters as he played, with drone footage showing Djokovic moving well and in discussion with Ivanisevic, himself a former Wimbledon champion.

Tennis Australia later released footage of the training session, which showed Djokovic hitting balls from the baseline.

But the 20-time grand slam champion reportedly received a frosty reception from fellow players on his return to Melbourne Park.

According to tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg, “someone in the player area” told him it was an eerie atmosphere when Djokovic was getting ready for his training session.

“Djokovic came to the gym before his hit,” the source told Rothenberg.

“The place went silent with everyone staring. Talk about uncomfortable.”

Rothenberg said there was an “awkward vibe” at the Australian Open complex.

It was Djokovic’s second hit on Australian Open courts after he headed straight to the practice courts at midnight on Monday shortly after he was released from detention.

His former coach Boris Becker revealed Djokovic was still “shell-shocked” from the ordeal but would do everything in his power to overcome the worst preparation possible for a grand slam.

“I spoke to him yesterday briefly and I congratulated him and he thanked me for my support,” Becker told the BBC.

“But obviously he’s still shell-shocked about the last six days.

“He’s a remarkable young man and his spirits are better. He went to train at midnight — that’s just who he is. He’s a different cat. He sees the world with a different pair of eyes.

“You may not agree with everything he does but you have to respect him. Obviously his preparation is beyond bad. I don’t think he’s ever been in a worst position entering the week before a grand slam but that’s just the way it is.”

The response from global tennis community to the latest development in the ongoing saga has been mixed.

However, the overall consensus is he should be free to play the Australian Open now the court has made its decision.

His rival Rafael Nadal initially said the situation could have been avoided if Djokovic was vaccinated but added on Monday that “justice had spoken”.

“Whether or not I agree with Djokovic on some things, justice has spoken and has said that he has the right to participate in the Australian Open, and I think it is the fairest decision to do so, if it has been resolved that way. I wish him the best of luck,” Nadal told Spanish radio. “(But) on a personal level, I’d much rather he didn’t play.”

Djokovic was inundated with support from superstar athletes following his Instagram post late on Monday night.

Seven-time grand slam winner Venus Williams, who won’t contest this year’s Australian Open, commented on his post: “Win it all!” along several supportive emojis.

Former Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis said: “I am so happy for you my friend”

Canadian tennis player Vasek Pospisil, who made the quarterfinals of Wimbledon in 2015, said: “We are all with you man!”.

NFL legend Tom Brady also voiced his support, adding: “Good luck”.

With AFP

Originally published as ‘Talk about uncomfortable’: Novak Djokovic training session shrouded in secrecy

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