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World No. 1 tennis player Novak Djokovic’s appeal of 2nd canceled visa into Australia moves to higher court days before start of Australian Open

Defending champion Novak Djokovic plays a forehand return during a practice session on Tuesday in the Rod Laver Arena ahead of the Australian Open at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia. (AP photo)

MELBOURNE, Australia — Novak Djokovic’s effort to play in the Australian Open despite being unvaccinated for COVID-19 moved to a higher court today as the No. 1-ranked tennis player appealed the second cancellation of his visa.

Djokovic was not seen on the online feed available to the public for the 15-minute procedural hearing, which began just two days before he is scheduled to play his first match of 2022 at Melbourne Park.

Judge David O’Callaghan ruled that lawyers representing Djokovic and the government would need to submit written arguments later today and scheduled a further hearing for Sunday morning.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke blocked the 34-year-old Serb’s visa, which was originally revoked when he landed at a Melbourne airport last week. But it was restored Monday by a judge on procedural grounds, because Djokovic was not allowed to have a lawyer with him at the airport.

As the latest appeal began Friday night, Djokovic was allowed to remain free, but the plan was for him to effectively return to immigration detention when he met with border officials at 8 a.m. today.

Defending men's champion Serbia's Novak Djokovic practices on Margaret Court Arena ahead of the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, on Thursda. (AP photo)

Deportation from Australia can lead to a three-year ban on returning to the country, although that may be waived.

Djokovic has a record nine Australian Open titles, including the past three, part of his Grand Slam haul of 20 championships. He is tied with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer for the most by a man in history.

Djokovic has acknowledged that his travel declaration was incorrect because it failed to indicate that he had been in multiple countries over the two weeks before his arrival in Australia.

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