220111 Djokovic
A billboard depicting Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic on a building in Belgrade, Serbia, Monday, Jan. 10, 2022. Image Credit: AP

Melbourne: The governing body of men's tennis on Monday said the visa battle over Novak Djokovic's vaccination status was "damaging on all fronts", the day after the sport star's victory over the Australian government in court.

The ATP said that it sympathised with both Djokovic and the Australian public and said it had done everything it could to head off potential problems for players entering the country for the Australian Open.

The Monday ruling by a judge in Melbourne overturned the cancellation of Djokovic's visa on COVID-19 health grounds, and ended the unvaccinated player's detention in an immigration facility, potentially clearing the way for him to play in the tournament that starts next Monday.

"The ATP fully respects the sacrifices the people of Australia have made since the onset of COVID-19 and the stringent immigration policies that have been put in place," said the statement.

But the ATP said it was clear Djokovic had believed he was able to enter Australia after having been granted the necessary medical exemption.

"The series of events leading to Monday's court hearing have been damaging on all fronts, including for Novak's well-being and preparation for the Australian Open," the statement continued.

However, it said that the ATP "continues to strongly recommend vaccination for all players on the ATP Tour, which we believe is essential for our sport to navigate the pandemic."

The body said that medical exemption requests were made independently of the ATP, but that it had been in "constant contact with Tennis Australia to seek clarity throughout this process".