Novak Djokovic points to ‘positive signs’ ahead of Australian Open 2023: ‘I just want to play tennis’

Novak Djokovic says he hopes to have an answer regarding his participation at the Australian Open “in the next few weeks,” adding that there are “some positive signs,” despite facing a potential three-year ban after being deported earlier this year over his vaccine status. 

Speaking to Sportal, the 21-time Grand Slam champion said his legal team has been in talks with Australian governmental officials regarding his deportation, which made him subject to a three-year ban. 

“When it comes to Australia, there are some positive signs, but unofficially,” he told the outlet, via EuroSport. “We are communicating through my lawyers in Australia. In fact, they are communicating with the authorities in charge of my case.


“I hope to have an answer in the next few weeks – whatever that answer might be, but, of course, I am hoping for a positive one – so that I have enough time to prepare for the start of the season, if that start is going to happen in Australia.”

Djokovic traveled to Australia in January to defend his title under the impression that he had been granted a medical exemption to the government’s mandate that all travelers must be vaccinated against COVID-19. 

The exemption was rejected by the Australian Border Force upon his arrival in Melbourne and, after several days of a back-and-forth in the courts, his visa was revoked, and he was deported.


“I really want to go there. I am over what happened this year, and I just want to play tennis. It is what I do best,” Djokovic added. “Australia has always been the place where I have played my best tennis. The results speak for themselves, so I am always extra motivated to go there. This time even more so.”

The mandate in Australia was lifted over the summer, but the deportation could prevent him from traveling back. 

“It is not a matter we can lobby on. It is a matter that definitely stays between the two of them,” Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said earlier this month of Djokovic and the Australian government. 

“And then, depending on the outcome, we would welcome him to the Australian Open.”

Djokovic was unable to play in the U.S. Open in August because of a similar mandate for non-U.S. citizen travelers. He defended his decision not to get vaccinated in September, saying he was well aware of the consequences.

“I don’t have any regrets. I mean, I do feel sad that I wasn’t able to play, but that was a decision that I made, and I knew what the consequences would be,” he said at the Laver Cup. “So I accepted them, and that’s it.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic says he hopes to have an answer regarding his ability to play in the Australian Open in January within “a few weeks.”

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