Novak Djokovic was paired with fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic in the Australian Open first round draw – but it remains to be seen whether the world No 1 is actually allowed to play the match.
The nine-time Melbourne champion, who is the No 1 seed for the upcoming Slam, is waiting for the Australian federal government to decide if he will be deported for lying on his visa form.
The draw on Thursday afternoon was delayed at very short notice while Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison gave a press conference on Covid-19 matters.
Novak Djokovic on the practice courts in Melbourne on Thursday as he awaits a final decision on whether he can remain in Australia to compete in the first Slam of the year
Djokovic was paired with fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic when the draw was made
But Morrison said no decision had yet been made on Djokovic’s fate and so his name was included in the draw.
Australian Open officials nervously awaited any new announcements from Morrison as Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke decides whether to use his ministerial powers to deport Djokovic despite the 34-year-old’s court victory earlier this week.
It came as the 20-time Grand Slam winner faced questions not only in Australia, but also Spain and his homeland of Serbia, after he admitted breaking Serbia’s Covid-19 isolation rules.
Djokovic admitted on Wednesday to attending events in Belgrade while infected with the virus and the Daily Mail also revealed he may have broken Spain’s emergency travel regulations when visiting Marbella last month.
He took to Instagram to confess he attended an interview with a French sports newspaper after testing positive for Covid.
He said: ‘I felt obliged to go ahead and conduct the L’Equipe interview as I didn’t want to let the journalist down.’
He added that attending the engagement was an ‘error of judgment’ and he should have rescheduled.
But the star is also under fire for posing maskless when he presented awards to some of Serbia’s top young tennis talent on December 17.
And Djokovic faces further scrutiny after it emerged his trip to Spain may have fallen foul of the country’s entry requirements.
Nonetheless, Djokovic’s name appeared in the draw for the Australian Open, which gets underway on Monday and he will play Kecmanovic first if allowed to stay and compete.
Elsewhere, Andy Murray faces a quick rematch with Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili, whom he defeated in Sydney on Wednesday.
US Open champion Emma Raducanu has been handed a tough draw against American Sloane Stephens, who has slipped to No 68 in the world rankings but reached the Melbourne semi-finals nine years ago.
Defending champion Naomi Osaka was drawn against young Colombian Camila Osorio as she prepares to make her return to the big stage and could meet top seed Ashleigh Barty in the fourth round.
British seeds Cameron Norrie and Dan Evans were given tough draws. Norrie, the 12th seed, will meet rising young American Sebastian Korda while Evans takes on former top-10 star David Goffin.
Heather Watson, the only other British player to have directly qualified for the main draw, takes on Egypt’s Mayar Sherif.
Rafael Nadal was placed in the same half as Djokovic, meaning he could meet him in the semi-finals.
Alexander Zverev was also in the top half, with second seed and US Open champion Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas in the bottom half.