Croatia tennis coach leaves Australia over visa

Filip Serdarusic told a Balkans regional sports channel online late Friday that he was not vaccinated but had tested positive for COVID-19 in October.

Picture: Freeimages

ZAGREB, CROATIA - Croatian tennis coach Filip Serdarusic who was allowed to enter Australia on a COVID-19 vaccine exemption said he had opted to leave the country after being caught in the visa controversy enveloping Novak Djokovic.

Serdarusic accompanied his brother Nino Serdarusic who played in a Challenger event at Traralgon east of Melbourne and then in the Australian Open qualifying tournament where Nino lost in the first round.

Filip Serdarusic told a Balkans regional sports channel online late Friday that he was not vaccinated but had tested positive for COVID-19 in October.

The results were forwarded to the Australian Tennis Federation and on 10 December he got the green light to travel to the country.

Upon arrival in Australia an "immigration lady asked me if I was vaccinated.

"I said no, but that I had the exemption," Serdarusic told the SportKlub.

"She told me there was a possibility that I go to a 14-day quarantine but I replied that I would not have arrived if I knew I would have to be in a quarantine."

The immigration officer called her superior and Serdarusic was eventually allowed to enter.

But, on 5 January, when Djokovic landed in Melbourne and immediately ignited a visa furore, Serdarusic received a call from the immigration centre to come for an interview

"I had two options: to return home legally or apply for a new visa.

"I decided to leave since I'm not 'big' like Novak to fight. If they stopped him they had to stop us too".

Czech player Renata Voracova was detained on the same grounds as Djokovic and deported from Australia on 8 January.

Serdarusic voiced support for the Serbian world number one who is fighting against deportation.

"When we applied for a visa we had to meet the requirements.

"Neither Novak nor I invented the exemption, we did it according to their rules and we were allowed to enter.

"We just used the opportunity they gave us," he said.

Djokovic, who has been detained again in Melbourne, is awaiting a federal court hearing scheduled for Sunday.

The Australian government insists a recent infection does not qualify as a vaccine exemption for foreign nationals trying to enter the country.