MELBOURNE, Australia – Finally, Sunday afternoon, Tennis Australia announced that the order of play for Monday would be released at 4 p.m..
Come what may.
The appeals hearing for Novak Djokovic’s case against the Australian immigration minister Alex Hawke had just concluded. No decision yet reached or announced.
And yet, if Djokovic was withdrawn from the tournament before the order of play was released, it would have a huge effecet on Andrey Rublev’s draw as the No. 5 seed.
The hour before that 4 p.m. deadline, with the judges deliberating, Rublev was out doing what he does best: practicing.
Here’s what it looked like.
Djokovic decision a game-changer
If the decision on Djokovic were announced before the OOP was released – and Djokovic was out – Rublev would be moved up to Djokovic’s spot at the top of the draw.
It would mean he would meet Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round, of Gianluca Mager. But much more than that.
It would mean he plays Monday, instead of Tuesday, as he’d be moving from the bottom half of the draw to the top.
Kind of a biggie.
It would also move him out of a section of the draw that ran through Marin Cilic, Dan Evans or Félix Auger-Aliassime, and right to Daniil Medvedev.
Instead, he’d be dealing with Lorenzo Sonego, Christian Garin and either Pablo Carreno Busta or Cameron Norrie with Matteo Berrettini as a potential quarter-final opponent.
On such details, do big moments hinge.
Never mind that 63 other men and 64 other women also had to wait until late in the day Sunday to find out when they would play.
In the end, Djokovic is in – for now
Finally, at 4:11 p.m., the scheduled was released.
And the tournament really had little option but to keep Djokovic in the draw, pending the decision.
As such, he’s the second match on the night session Monday, against his countryman Kecmanovic.
Rafael Nadla is the late match on the day session on Rod Laver.
So, in the end, Rublev stays where he is. If it turns out that Djokovic loses his appeal and is out, a lucky loser would take his place at the top of the draw – thus completely throwing the balance out of whack.
At this point, it looks like that might be No. 29 qualifying seed Salvatore Caruso who is next in line.