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Novak Djokovic confirms he will play at Australian Open

Novak Djokovic confirms he will play at Australian Open
© Reuters
Novak Djokovic confirms that he has been granted a visa to compete at next year's Australian Open after his three-year ban was overturned.

Former world number one Novak Djokovic has confirmed that he will play at the 2023 Australian Open after being granted a visa to enter the country.

Amid a COVID-19 vaccine-related storm, the nine-time champion was detained by the authorities in January after travelling Down Under with the aim of defending his 2021 title.

Rules at the time stated that passengers had to be vaccinated to enter Australia or apply for a medical exemption, which Djokovic did after reporting a positive test on December 16.

The Serbian repeatedly refused to reveal his vaccination stance, although it was soon confirmed that he had not been immunized against the disease, and he was also revealed to have taken part in a photoshoot two days after testing positive.

Djokovic was ultimately deported by Australia's then-Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, who has since been succeeded by Andrew Giles, and was given a three-year ban from entering the country.

However, reports earlier this week stated that Djokovic's ban was set to be lifted to allow him to compete at the 2023 tournament, with the Immigration Minister having the power to overturn the ruling if "compelling" circumstances arise.

After defeating Andrey Rublev and sealing his place in the semi-finals of the ATP Finals on Wednesday, Djokovic confirmed to the media that he has been granted a visa to compete at the Grand Slam tournament next year.

Novak Djokovic pictured at the ATP Finals on November 14, 2022© Reuters

"I was very happy to receive the news yesterday. It was 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," Djokovic told the press.

"I could not receive better news for sure – during this tournament as well. Australian Open has been my most successful grand slam.

"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."

Passengers arriving in Australia no longer need to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter the country, with the rule being scrapped in July.

Djokovic has won a record nine singles titles at the Australian Open, the most out of any male player in the Open Era and second-highest overall behind Margaret Court's 11.

The 35-year-old - who is currently ranked eighth in the world - comfortably defeated Rublev 6-4 6-1 to advance to the final four of the ATP Finals as he searches for his sixth year-end title.

Djokovic - who has also beaten Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets in Turin - now prepares to face Russia's Daniil Medvedev in his final group match on Friday.

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Novak Djokovic celebrates at the Paris Masters on November 5, 2022
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