Australian Open boss makes staggering call on Novak Djokovic return

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Novak Djokovic and Craig Tiley, pictured here at the Australian Open in 2021.
Novak Djokovic and Craig Tiley at the Australian Open in 2021. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley says he's hoping Novak Djokovic will be allowed back into the country to contest the Australian Open in 2023.

Djokovic, who won his 21st grand slam title at Wimbledon last weekend, was infamously deported from Australia in the lead-up to the Melbourne Park grand slam in January after having his visa cancelled.

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The deportation comes with an automatic three-year ban from re-entering the country, however the popular opinion is that the government won't enforce the ban and allow Djokovic back for the Australian Open in 2023.

The Serbian star revealed after his Wimbledon triumph that he is still unvaccinated against Covid-19 and has no plans to change that.

As it currently stands, he won't be allowed into the United States in August to contest the US Open because of America's policy that all foreign tourists must be vaccinated.

However things are looking up in terms of his prospects of playing the Australian Open next January.

"We are doing our best," TA boss Tiley told Sport Klub this week when asked if Djokovic would be allowed back into the country.

"Of course, it's not my decision whether he will be able to play at the Australian Open, but Novak is always welcome, he knows that many people in Australia like to watch him play.

"It is up to others to make a decision, but there is still a lot of time before the Australian Open next year. I think everyone should be enjoying his Wimbledon victory now."

In a boost for Djokovic, the Australian government recently dropped rules requiring overseas travellers to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination.

Novak Djokovic and Craig Tiley, pictured here after the Australian Open final in 2015.
Novak Djokovic and Craig Tiley after the Australian Open final in 2015. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Foreign visitors will no longer have to provide proof of vaccination upon arrival under a new ruling by the Labor government.

According to the ABC's Tracey Holmes, Djokovic and his team are aware of the change in border restrictions and are contemplating the possibility of applying to have his three-year ban waived.

A Department of Immigration spokesperson told the ABC that "each case is assessed on its own merits", giving rise to the potential for Djokovic's visa ban to be overturned.

"Migration legislation provides that a person whose visa has been cancelled may be subject to a three-year exclusion period that prevents the grant of a further temporary visa," the spokesperson said.

"The exclusion period will be considered as part of any new visa application and can be waived in certain circumstances."

Novak Djokovic opens up on Australia ordeal

Speaking after winning his seventh Wimbledon title, Djokovic opened up on his tumultuous time in Australia and how his form suffered in the aftermath.

"Everything that followed Australia, particularly on the tournaments, has been a huge challenge and obstacle for me to overcome emotionally," the World No.7 admitted.

"Once I left Australia, I left that behind me. I was ready to move on. Then it wasn't that easy to close that chapter because then I had the media and all of you guys reminding me.

"Of course, many people as well travelling around the world, some unpleasant situations as well that keep on repeating the same movie that I kind of was part of, unfortunately, in Australia.

"That has caused turbulence inside of me. I just needed time to weather the storm.

Novak Djokovic, pictured here speaking to the media in Bosnia after his Wimbledon triumph.
Novak Djokovic speaks to the media in Bosnia after his Wimbledon triumph. (Photo by ELVIS BARUKCIC/AFP via Getty Images)

"It affected me definitely in the first several months of the year. I was not feeling great. I mean, mentally, emotionally, I was not at a good place.

"I wanted to play but, when I went out on the court in Dubai, was the first tournament of the year, I just felt so much pressure and emotions happening. I wasn't feeling myself on the court.

"I realised at that point that it's going to take some time, that I have to be patient, and sooner or later I will get myself in the state, optimal state, where I would like to be."

Coach and former Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic revealed the depth of Djokovic's misery during that period, saying: "This win is very emotional. I can say it was a s*** year, a tough year, especially for him, but also for us that were close to him.

"For some people, they don't recover. They will never play tennis (again). This was a big shock. Was shock for me, and I was there. I was free. Imagine for him.

"Unbelievable how he recovered and how he got through that. It's really for me heroic because it was not easy to digest all the things and come back to play tennis."

with AAP

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