Novak Djokovic's next move confirmed after leaked document emerges

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·Sports Editor
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Novak Djokovic, pictured here at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis event in 2020.
Novak Djokovic at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis event in 2020. (Photo by Amin Mohammad Jamali/Getty Images)

Novak Djokovic's participation at the Dubai Tennis Championships next month has been confirmed by event organisers, in what will be his first tournament since being deported from Australia.

The World No.1 may have been kicked out of Australia and missed the chance to defend his title, but he can expect a much warmer reception when he makes his return to action.

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Earlier this week the tournament entry list for Dubai was leaked online, showing Djokovic as the No.1 seed.

On Thursday the tournament organisers confirmed the Serbian star's participation at the star-studded event.

Djokovic's return to action in February is doubtless going to be one of sport's show-stopping events following all the dramas of the past month.

The 20-time grand slam winner had his entry visa to Australia finally cancelled on the eve of the Open after a week and half of extraordinary drama.

Djokovic told officials he was not vaccinated against Covid-19 and believed he'd been eligible to enter the country and compete after testing positive for coronavirus in December and making a full recovery.

Dubai doesn't have the same strict conditions for entry as Australia, and Djokovic will be able to compete at the tournament he's won five times previously if he produces a negative PCR test result when he arrives.

He will face defending champion Aslan Karatsev and rising stars Andrey Rublev and Denis Shapovalov at the event which runs from February 21 to 26.

Novak Djokovic, pictured here landing in Dubai en route to Serbia after being deported from Australia.
Novak Djokovic landed in Dubai en route to Serbia after being deported from Australia. (Photo by STR/AFPTV/AFP via Getty Images)

Felix Auger-Aliassime, Jannik Sinner and Gael Monfils, who all enjoyed impressive campaigns in Melbourne in the champion's absence, have also entered Dubai.

It looks certain to be Djokovic's return to the tour as he is not included in the entry lists for the ATP events in Rotterdam or Rio de Janeiro beforehand.

"We are delighted to see Novak back in Dubai for the 12th time when he will be seeking his sixth title and we wish him the best of luck," organisers said on Monday.

It will be Djokovic's 12th appearance at the event, where only Roger Federer has won more times.

In the women's event, confirmed entries include World No.2 Aryna Sabalenka, No.3 and defending champion Garbine Muguruza, and two-time Dubai winner Simona Halep.

Novak Djokovic gets huge boost in bid to play Wimbledon

Meanwhile, Djokovic's chances of defending his Wimbledon crown received a huge boost this week after a key rule change in the UK.

It was announced in parliament on Wednesday that all unvaccinated travellers will soon be able to enter England, opening the door for Djokovic.

“Today I can confirm that our international travel regime will now be liberalised as part our efforts to ensure that 2022 is the year in which restrictions on travel, on lockdowns and limits on people’s lives are firmly placed in the past,” UK Transport Secretary said Grant Shapps said.

The move would surely please Djokovic, who was unable to compete for his ninth Australian Open title and a men's record 21st grand slam.

He will have to undergo PCR testing two days before departure and within two days after landing.

As it stands, Djokovic won't be able to compete at the US Open, however it looks as though he will be able to play the French Open.

A new vaccination passport is set to be introduced in France and applies to athletes entering the country for their respective sports.

However his positive Covid test in December looks likely to allow Djokovic to play because it will fall within six months of the French Open.

International travellers can still obtain the vaccine passport if they have tested positive in the last six months.

with AAP

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