Novak Djokovic missed the Australian Open last year after he was deported from the country due to his Covid vaccination status; he was also banned from entering Australia for three years; the world number eight will return to Melbourne hoping to win his 10th Australian Open
Nine-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic expressed his relief at having his visa ban overturned, which means he will be allowed to compete in next year’s Australian Open.
The 35-year-old Serb, the most successful male player in the tournament’s history, missed this year’s tournament after he was detained and deported over his failure to have a Covid-19 vaccine.
Former world No 1 Djokovic was originally barred from the country until 2025, but that decision has been reversed by the Australian government.
“I was very happy to receive the news yesterday,” Djokovic, whose deportation dominated the build-up to this year’s Australian Open, said after his victory over Andrey Rublev at the ATP Finals in Turin on Wednesday.
“It was a relief obviously knowing what I and people closest to me in my life have been through this year with what happened in Australia and post-Australia obviously.
“I could not receive better news for sure – during this tournament as well. Australian Open has been my most successful Grand Slam. I made some of the best memories there.
“Did it affect my game today? I would like to believe it did. Why not? I don’t think it did affect me too much because I’m familiar with what I need to do in order to prepare myself for every match.
“Of course, knowing that I have clarity now, what I do in the off-season, starting the season in Australia, also of course it did relieve some of the pressure me and my team felt. Just giving that clarity makes it great for us.
“Of course, I want to go back there, I want to play tennis, do what I do best, hopefully have a great Australian summer.
“I’m always thankful to go through experiences, no matter what the experiences are. I try to be optimistic and positive in life. I look forward to starting the new year in Australia, and we’ll see how the next year goes.”
Tournament director Craig Tiley confirmed earlier this month that Djokovic would be welcome in January if he could get a visa, but that Tennis Australia was unable to lobby on his behalf.
In July, Australia scrapped a rule that required international travellers to declare their Covid vaccination status, and Djokovic said in October he had received “positive signs” about the status of efforts to overturn his ban.