Novak Djokovic drawn against Miomir Kecmanovic at Australian Open amid visa uncertainty

The Australian Open draw took place after an unexplained delay of more than an hour on Thursday, with top seed Novak Djokovic facing fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round.

Djokovic, looking to win his 10th Australian Open title in Melbourne this month, is waiting for Australia’s immigration minister Alex Hawke to decide whether to revoke his reinstated visa ahead of the tournament.

The 34-year-old Djokovic had his visa canceled after entering Australia without a valid exemption for the country’s vaccination requirements, but a judge ruled on Monday that he could stay.

Rafael Nadal, who is tied with Djokovic and Roger Federer on 20 grand slam singles titles, is seeded sixth and scheduled to face American Marcos Giron in the first round.

Nadal is in the same half of the draw as Djokovic, but the pair would only meet in the semifinals if they get that far.

No. 2 seed Daniiel Medvedev, last year’s US Open champion, faces Henri Laaksonen in the first round, while No. 3 seed Alexander Zverev faces fellow German Daniel Altmaier.

In the women’s singles draw, there is a potential fourth-round matchup between world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty and defending champion Naomi Osaka.

Osaka, seeded 13th, will begin her title defense against Camila Osorio, while Barty’s first-round opponent will be a qualifier.

Two-time grand slam champion Barty’s best performance at her home grand slam came in 2020 when she reached the semifinals.

Other grand slam champions in this year’s draw include Iga Swiatek, Garbine Muguruza and Simona Halep; Emma Raducanu and Sloane Stephens, US Open winners from 2021 and 2017 respectively, have been drawn against each other in the first round.

Capped entry

The state of Victoria announced on Thursday that ticket sales for this year’s tournament will be capped at 50% if they have not already sold to that level.

The amendment is being made “to ensure the health and safety of fans attending Melbourne Park,” according to a statement.

Tickets that have already been purchased remain valid and will not be canceled or changed, and there are no changes to ground pass access.

Face masks will be mandatory, except while eating or drinking, and social distancing measures indoors will be imposed according to the state’s COVIDSafe settings.

“As COVID-19 hospitalisations and cases continue to rise in Victoria, these mitigation strategies are proportionate and designed to assist in limiting the spread of COVID-19,” the statement added.

Last year, the Australian Open was delayed until February due to the pandemic. A lockdown in the state of Victoria meant matches were played without fans for five days. Once lifted, the capacity was capped at 30,000 spectators a day.

CNN has reached out to Tennis Australia for comment, but has not yet heard back.

The 2022 Australian Open begins Monday, January 17, and concludes January 30.

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