Novak Djokovic named in Australian Open draw despite no confirmation on whether he can stay

Novak Djokovic during a practice session on Margaret Court Arena ahead of the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne on Thursday, Credit: AP

Novak Djokovic has been named in the Australian Open draw despite no confirmation on whether he can stay in the country and compete in the tennis tournament.

The 34-year-old is the subject of controversy after the tournament granted him a medical exemption from a Covid vaccine and then his visa into Australia was revoked and then reinstated.The world number one was was paired against fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic.

On Monday, Djokovic won an appeal against a decision to cancel his visa after a judge ruled that the tennis star had not been given enough time to speak to his lawyers before the decision to revoke it was made.

However, he could still be deported by the government under separate powers at the discretion of immigration minister Alex Hawke due to not being vaccinated against Covid-19.

The Australian government said no decision would be made on Thursday, with the beginning of the tournament now just four days away.

On Wednesday Novak Djokovic admitted he attended a newspaper interview and photoshoot after testing positive for Covid-19, and said it was an "error of judgment".The tennis star admitted on Instagram he had attended an interview and photoshoot for French newspaper L'Equipe at his tennis centre in Belgrade, Serbia, on December 18 - a day after he received his positive PCR test result.

He explained that he cancelled other events but felt obliged to go ahead with the interview as it was a "long-standing commitment" and he "didn't want to let the journalist down".

Djokovic has continually refused to reveal if he is vaccinated against coronavirus, but is thought not to be after repeatedly voicing scepticism against it in the past.

Britain's Emma Raducanu will play her first grand slam match since her US Open triumph, picked to play against another former New York champion, Sloane Stephens.

The draw was due to take place at 3pm Melbourne time (4am GMT) but it was delayed by more than an hour.

Britain's Emma Raducanu will face Sloane Stephens. Credit: AP

It was subsequently announced that the draw would take place at 4.15pm (5.15am UK).Rafael Nadal was placed in the same half as Djokovic, meaning he could meet the Serb 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.

Andy Murray’s Australian Open return will come against 21st seed Nikoloz Basilashvili, who he beat in Sydney on Wednesday, while 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.

The women’s draw was held first and 17th seed Emma Raducanu’s first grand slam match since her US Open triumph will come against a former New York champion in American Sloane Stephens.

Stephens, who recently wed footballer Jozy Altidore, has slipped to 68 in the rankings but at her best is a formidable opponent and reached the semi-finals in Melbourne 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.