The quickly spreading Omicron variant, no Serena Williams or Roger Federer and now the Novak Djokovic saga — the Australian Open is struggling to reside as much as its “Happy Slam” fame.
With the match simply 10 days away, there was the risk Friday of extra disarray with the opportunity of different gamers being in an identical predicament to the world primary.
The vaccine-sceptic Djokovic, the Australian Open defending champion, was detained on arrival within the nation this week, his visa cancelled for failing to fulfill robust coronavirus pandemic entry restrictions.
The 34-year-old Serb is now languishing in a Melbourne immigration detention facility and preventing deportation.
Two different gamers or employees attending the Open are additionally now being investigated, Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews stated.
Tennis Australia, which organises the primary Grand Slam of the yr, is within the highlight for its position within the debacle having been a part of the method that received Djokovic a medical exemption from having a Covid jab.
An on-line evaluation piece by nationwide broadcaster ABC stated that the Open “is in chaos with arguably the tournament’s biggest drawcard on the men’s side in limbo and the decision-making of organisers and government under intense scrutiny”.
The Australian Open is called the “Happy Slam” for its good climate, bumper crowds, and get together ambiance at Melbourne Park, which sits beside the banks of the Yarra River.
But like all main sports activities occasions since coronavirus emerged in late 2019 in China, the pandemic has come calling.
Last yr’s Australian Open was thrown into doubt by Covid and finally began three weeks late earlier than followers have been barred mid-tournament when authorities ordered a snap lockdown throughout Victoria state.
This yr was speculated to be totally different with the vaccines, however then got here Omicron and an infection numbers rising quick in Australia and past.
Even if Djokovic, who’s chasing a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title, does go on to defend his title, the match will nonetheless be lacking some star energy.
Federer, who additionally has 20 Slam titles, won’t be there as he battles to get well from a knee harm.
Also absent would be the American Williams, who’s managing her workload into the twilight of one other of tennis’s nice careers.
Rafael Nadal might be there, having lately been “very sick” with Covid, however it stays to be seen if he can compete at his devastating finest.
But this might be the possibility for another person within the males’s sport to actually emerge from the shadow of the “Big Three” of Djokovic, Federer, and Nadal.
World quantity two Daniil Medvedev might be that man and he senses a chance so as to add to his US Open crown from final yr.
“I think if he won’t be there, that’s minus one guy who has 20 Slams, and that’s a lot,” stated the Russian of Djokovic.
Medvedev, who would be the prime seed if Djokovic fails to make it to Melbourne Park, added: “When somebody wins it nine times, he’s not there, the draw opens up a little bit. There is no secret in it.”
And though there isn’t any Williams within the girls’s draw, defending champion Naomi Osaka has returned from a self-enforced break for her psychological well being and stated she is decided to take pleasure in herself.
The four-time Grand Slam champion stated this week that being again in Australia was like “a breath of fresh air”.
There is native pleasure round Australia’s world primary Ash Barty whereas there’s additionally the emergence of latest stars within the girls’s sport similar to 19-year-old US Open champion Emma Raducanu and US prodigy Coco Gauff.
The ABC piece warned nevertheless that it doesn’t matter what occurs with Djokovic, the harm has been executed.
“While TA (Tennis Australia) and others will be hoping for a quick decision, the reality is that the presence of the world number one is likely to be hanging over the tournament no matter whether he wins or loses,” it stated.