Novak Djokovic has been confirmed for his first tournament in Australia since being deported from the country in a row involving his Covid vaccination status in January of this year.
The Serb arrived in Australia with a medical exemption at the start of 2022 and believed it would allow him to play at the Australian Open, where he is the record nine-time men’s singles champion. After political intervention, however, he was deported and faced being banned from Australia for three years.
The 35-year-old had his visa ban overturned last month – and it has now been confirmed that he will play at the Adelaide International, which gets underway on January 1 and features fellow ATP top ten men’s players including Russia’s Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev.
Djokovic will look to start the 2023 season in the same fashion he ended 2022. Winning the ATP Finals in December, he now heads Down Under looking to level generational rival Rafael Nadal on 22 Grand Slam wins.
Nadal won the last edition of the Australian Open by beating Medvedev in the final in Djokovic’s absence. With another triumph at the French Open, the Spaniard pulled two ahead of Roger Federer and Djokovic, before the Serb pulled one back by sealing his seventh Wimbledon crown in July.
Djokovic said he was “very happy” to receive the news about his Australian visa ban being overturned, which came as a “relief” 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. [The] Australian Open has been my most successful Grand Slam. I made some of the best memories there,” Djokovic added.
“Of course, I want to go back there. I want to play tennis, do what I do best, [and] 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,” Djokovic concluded.
The Adelaide International begins on January 1, with the Australian Open starting 15 days later in Melbourne.
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