Novak Djokovic's huge boost as Australia opens door for return

·4-min read
Novak Djokovic is pictured smiling to the crowd at Wimbledon 2022.
Novak Djokovic could potentially play next year's Australian Open, after the federal government dropped requirements for overseas visitors to show proof of vaccination. (Photo by Shi Tang/Getty Images)

The door has been left ajar for Novak Djokovic to contest the Australian Open next year, after the federal government dropped rules requiring overseas travellers to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination.

Foreign visitors will no longer have to provide proof of vaccination upon arrival under a new ruling by the Labor government, giving rise to the possibility of Djokovic contesting the grand slam should his visa ban also be overturned.

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Djokovic was memorably detained by Australian border officials in February and was eventually deported by then Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, who used his ministerial discretion to cancel the Serbian star's visa after he arrived in Melbourne with what was eventually determined to be an invalid vaccine exemption certificate.

The 35-year-old was subsequently barred from applying for a new visa for three years.

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 visa ban waived.

Health Minister Mark Butler said the move came on the advice of Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly.

"The Chief Medical Officer has advised it is no longer necessary for travellers to declare their vaccine status as part of our management of COVID," Mr Butler said.

The new rules for international travellers will come into effect from Wednesday.

Djokovic's visa was eventually cancelled, after various court challenges, on the grounds that his standing as a high-profile international figure and had discussed his opposition to being vaccinated in the months prior.

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 waived in light of the changed requirements.

"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, pictured here leaving the Park hotel in Melbourne after his visa was cancelled.
Novak Djokovic leaves the Park hotel in Melbourne after his visa was cancelled. (Photo by Diego Fedele/Getty Images)

Novak Djokovic hoping to retain Wimbledon title

On the day the centre court celebrated its 100th anniversary, Djokovic marked the esteemed occasion by marching into yet another quarter-final at Wimbledon.

And in the last eight for the 13th time, the six-times champ will doubtless meet one of the game's next superstars on the hallowed turf - even if not the one wunderkind most had expected.

Carlos Alcaraz has been the sport's young rocket man this year but the Spanish teen met his match on Sunday in the shape of the equally brilliant 20-year-old Italian Jannik Sinner, who'll be the next to try to derail Djokovic.

On a day when some of the golden oldies of the sport began the afternoon on parade on centre - including Djokovic himself - the 35-year-old reminded everyone he's still the man to beat at SW19 with his 6-2 4-6 6-1 6-2 win over gallant Dutch qualifier Tim van Rijthoven.

Novak Djokovic concentrates on a return at Wimbledon.
Novak Djokovic is through to his 13th quarter final at Wimbledon, where he will face Janik Sinner. (Photo by Shi Tang/Getty Images)

The big-hitting Van Ritjhoven prompted some concern for the champion when he hit back to level the match but after that, the only question was whether Djokovic, stepping up a gear, could seal the deal under the roof before the 11pm curfew.

"Wooo, I'm lucky - thank god!" Djokovic said, when learning he'd beaten the cut by just 20 minutes.

"I've had experience of playing over two separate days under the roof, I'm glad I could complete the win in the same day.

"He was a very tough opponent. I've never faced him before, kind of a new face on the tour, he was on a streak so I knew it wasn't going to be easy with that serve and a lot of talent. It took me a bit of time to get used to his pace."

Winning the final match on the first weekend that Wimbledon had scheduled Sunday play, Djokovic reckoned it had been an "incredible honour and privilege to stand alongside legends of our sport" and he applauded Billie Jean King who had stayed to watch him until 10.40pm.

With AAP

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