Novak Djokovic returns to Australia after a year of deportation
ADELAIDE, Australia –
Novak Djokovic has arrived in Australia almost a year after he was deported for his stance against COVID-19 vaccination, Tennis Australia confirmed on Wednesday.
Djokovic will open his 2023 campaign in Adelaide as he prepares for his chance to win his 10th Australian Open title.
The 21-time major winner has been granted a visa by the Australian government and allowed to compete at the Adelaide International, which begins on Sunday.
The 35-year-old Serb arrived in Adelaide on Tuesday night, the regulator confirmed.
Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley indicated in a press conference on Tuesday that Djokovic has arrived.
“Novak is welcome in Australia,” Tiley said. “I think as we speak, he’s landed in Adelaide and he’s going to be the beater (at the Australian Open) again.”
The Australian Open tennis tournament takes place from 16 to 29 January in Melbourne.
Djokovic missed last year’s Grand Slam because he refused to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Since then, Australia has lifted strict rules for unvaccinated travelers.
Immigration Minister Andrew Giles last month confirmed that Djokovic, who is facing a possible three-year ban following deportation, had been granted a visa.
Djokovic has won a record 9 times Australian Open, including the last 3 times he competed. Rafael Nadal won the title in 2022 when Djokovic was absent.
“Over the years, I’ve been really lucky to start very strong in Australia and I love playing there,” Djokovic said in Dubai last week at an exhibition tournament. “Obviously after what happened earlier this year, hopefully I can be well received there and hopefully that can help me play good tennis.”
But there are still questions around how Djokovic will be received by Australian fans. Tiley told reporters on Tuesday that he believes Djokovic will be well received.
“I have a lot of confidence in the Australian public,” Tiley said. “We are a very well-educated sports public, especially those who come to tennis. They love their tennis, they love to witness greatness, they love to witness great fortunes. Great athletes, great games.
“And I’m very confident that the fans will react the same way we hope they will and respect that.”