Australian Open 2022 campaign under threat as Federal Court to hear appeal after Immigration Minister Alex Hawke cancels Serbian tennis star’s visa

Filip Serdarusic, Croatian tennis coach and brother of tennis player Nino Serdarusic, told Serbian site Sport Klub he only had to leave Australia after being granted a medical exemption due to Novak Djokovic’s situation.

He said Australian authorities were playing politics with Djokovic at the expense of others.

Serdarusic, who arrived in Australia on the same medical exemption as the world No.1, told Sport Klub journalist Sasa Ozmo that on the day Djokovic arrived, Australian immigration authorities called him at 10pm and asked him to attend an interview the following day.

“There was an opportunity to enter with an exemption. I am not vaccinated and I had coronavirus in October,” he said.

He added his agent had sent confirmation of this to Tennis Australia, which passed it onto authorities. Serdarusic said he was then given approval to enter Australia around December 10 and arrived with his brother on a flight chartered by Tennis Australia.

Serdarusic said that a Border Force official had told him he may face 14-day quarantine after finding out he was unvaccinated and had an exemption. Serdarusic told her he wouldn’t have come to Australia had he known he’d face quarantine.

“Then she called her boss, he looked at the papers, photographed them and told me I could enter the country freely,” Serdarusic told Sport Klub.

Nino and Filip Serdarusic were in Melbourne for three days and then travelled to Traralgon for a tennis tournament when Djokovic arrived at Melbourne Airport.

Serdarusic said he then got a phone call from immigration authorities at 10pm and was told to attend an interview the next day. TA sent him a car an hour before his brother’s quarterfinals match as he had to arrive at Immigration by 5pm.

Serdarusic decided he would not challenge a potential visa cancellation decision.

“They would have rejected it 99 per cent as they had decided it was no longer valid you’d had COVID. I decided to pack up as I am not as great as Novak to fight. If they’d stopped him, they had to stop us, too.”

Serdarusic said Djokovic had done everything by the rules.

“People have all sorts of unpleasant comments. I’ll say only this: When we applied for a visa, we had to fulfil conditions. Neither Novak nor I invented the exemption. We followed their rules and were approved entry. They can strengthen their political cause on him, but they can’t on us ‘little ones’, that’s why this is happening,” Serdarusic said.

“He [Djokovic] is ideal for that before the election, that’s how it seems. If they had let in the Czech [player Renata Voracova, who also left Australia] and me, why not him? I think Tennis Australia had hoped he’d enter like we had done, but everyone knows him. If it hadn’t been for Novak, this wouldn’t have happened to us.”

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