Kris Shannon runs through five reasons why we should be thankful for the Novak Djokovic saga.
1. Sport needs villains…
It's all a bit boring when everyone is nice. Imagine the Black Caps but instead of Australia their rival was a bunch of top blokes who loved nothing more than playing by the rules.
Now dispatch that unsettling thought and imagine the top of men's tennis but rather than Novak Djokovic duking it out with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal we had another non-threatening European charming his way into the record books.
Sounds a bit boring. Athletes like Djokovic are good for sport. Terrible for public health, yes, but entirely necessary to become invested in the narratives that make sport so compelling.
As Djokovic said shortly before his deportation: "You need people like me. You need people like me so you can point your f***ing fingers and say, 'That's the bad guy'."
Hmm…that was either Djokovic or Tony Montana. Point stands either way.
2. …if only so the heroes reveal themselves
Describing Nadal as merely non-threatening might be unfair. (Federer, on the other hand…) The Spaniard has always played with a level of vigour that leaves fans in no doubt the meaning of 'Vamos!'
And now Nadal can add all-around good guy to a CV containing 20 Grand Slam titles.
Unlike a certain Serb who boasts that same tally, Nadal knows how important his platform is and how, on this one occasion, it is right to ask athletes to be role models.
"People who are in a position that can create or can have an impact on other people need to be responsible," Nadal told CNN sometime between the first and second deportations.
"I don't agree with his way to thinking about how to proceed with this pandemic - I really believe in vaccination.
"What we are facing worldwide is much, much more important than tennis and tennis players. Millions of people have already passed away and a lot of families are suffering the consequences."
Now it will be Nadal's turn to suffer the consequences…for stealing my heart.
3. It shows what awaits anti-vaxxers
Djokovic was described during his second appeal as an anti-vax icon, which must be the greatest piece of negging in Australian Federal Court history.
But it's true; look at those who, with little knowledge of tennis and less of immigration law, leaped to his defence.
It would have been quite a boon to that misguided cause had this posterboy remained in his lofty position.
Instead, Djokovic, a multi-millionaire with infinite resources, was shuttled between the airport and an unglamorous hotel, in full view of a frothing press pack, temporarily stripped of some of his privilege.
It might sound harsh, but good. Those who laud Djokovic as an icon - with nowhere near his financial strength - should see his travails and wonder how tough life could become.
Or they just could get a safe and free shot and get on with it.
4. It highlights Australia's inhumane treatment of refugees
Way back when this mess began, Djokovic supporters protesting outside the hotel where he was detained found themselves adjacent to a group of refugee advocates also making its voice heard.
"I feel so ignorant," one from the former camp told the Guardian. "I came here for him, and find out they've been locked up nine years. It's so wrong."
It certainly is, and it's easy to feel ashamed for either being unaware of or ignoring the way our neighbours welcome those fleeing violence or persecution or simply wanting a better life for them and their families.
Djokovic - no doubt treated like a king compared to some of those with whom he shared a hotel - at least highlighted the issue.
Unlike the world No 1, the other residents of that hotel were seeking help in their moment of biggest need, only to find themselves shut away in windowless rooms for 23 hours a day.
And those were the lucky ones - Djokovic's new fans ought to take a tour of Christmas Island some time.
5. And provides a rare win for humanity
It's been a rough couple of years. The global pandemic? Bad. An ever-worsening climate catastrophe our leaders seem incapable of combating? Not great. Jeff Bezos.
We, as humans, need of an occasional win.
So think about how it would have felt to watch Djokovic advance in the Australian Open. To hear him yuk it up in on-court interviews with sycophantic former pros making blithe reference to him "overcoming distractions". To see him lift aloft yet another trophy and celebrate history by breaking his Grand Slam tie with Federer and Nadal.
Not the best of starts to 2022. So, tiresome as it was, at least the Djokovic saga eventually gave us a happy ending.
Now let's do it all again at Roland Garros.