The Australian Open champion’s self-portrait before he left for Melbourne began the storm that ended with him being banished over his Covid vaccination status, a former star has claimed Anna Chakvetadze © Paul Zimmerman / Getty Images for AYS World

Novak Djokovic’s badly-received photo before he flew to Australia led to his detainment by the country’s government and the cancelation of his visa, according to former world number five Anna Chakvetadze.

The decision by Djokovic to publish the picture, which showed him smiling alongside his luggage as he prepared for his mammoth journey to Australia on January 4, was part of his downfall, eight-time WTA title winner Chakvetadze has claimed.

The snap was thought to have ended speculation over whether Djokovic, who many suspected at the time was not vaccinated and therefore did not meet border requirements to enter Australia, would defend his title.

Critics of Djokovic swiftly piled in after he mentioned receiving “exemption permission” in the post – the agreement the world number one believed he had with officials to enter Australia without being vaccinated because he had tested positive for Covid in December 2021.

That led to accusations that Djokovic had been given special treatment, only for the Serb superstar to be questioned by border chiefs immediately after arrival in Australia, detained and fall foul of Australian Minister for Immigration Alex Hawke’s second attempt to cancel his visa and deport the frustrated top seed.

“It all started, in my opinion, with an Instagram photo that he was flying to Australia,” ex-Maria Sharapova rival Chakvetadze told Sport Express about Djokovic’s surprise announcement to his following of more than 10 million on Instagram.

“And to fly for a long time [25 hours after the photo was published] – in Australia there was such [controversy] that Djokovic was flying into the country with a medical exemption, without vaccination. (RT)