Novak Djokovic admits he could not have received "better news" after confirming that he has been granted a visa to return to Melbourne Park for the 2023 Australian Open.
The Serbian former World No.1 was given an automatic three year ban after being deported from Australia in January after attempting to enter the country under what was later determined to be an invalid Covid-19 vaccination exemption.
The three year ban was issued by former Immigration Minister Alex Hawke during the previous government, with Djokovic's visa status presenting a quandary for the Anthony Albanese government.
However, the 35-year-old confirmed at the ATP Finals in Turin that his ban had been overturned and he was free to return for a shot at a record-extending 10th Australian Open title.
"I was very happy to receive the news yesterday," said Djokovic, who'd been at the centre of major international drama on the eve of this year's event when he was held in a detention centre for attempting to enter the country while not vaccinated before being deported amid a draw-out legal battle.
But speaking in Turin after defeating Andrey Rublev at the ATP Finals, the Serbian said: "It's 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 slams. I made some of the best memories there.
"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."
The news came before Djokovic produced one of his performances of the year to outplay Rublev 6-4 6-1 to qualify for the semi-finals of the season-ending tournament made up of the top eight male players in the world.
Novak Djokovic buoyed by news at ATP Finals
Djokovic revealed after his breathtaking display against Rublev that the relief of knowing he was able to return to Melbourne Park in 2023, most probably contributed to his performance in Italy.
"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," he said.
"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."
The return of Djokovic had looked on the cards ever since July when Australia scrapped its rule requiring visitors from overseas to declare their COVID vaccination status.
And the Serb himself had commented earlier in the week that he had received positive signs about the overturning of the ban and a potential return.
Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley had said Djokovic would be welcome back if he could get a visa, but that Tennis Australia couldn't lobby on his behalf.
After missing the Australian Open and US Open over his Covid-19 stance, the still-unvaccinated Djokovic will now be able to shoot for Rafael Nadal's Melbourne crown while also attempting to equal the Spaniard's men's record of 22 grand slam crowns.
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