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Australian Open boss says he would love Novak Djokovic if he returns in 2023

Tennis Australia has announced it will leave the country’s government to decide whether or not former world number one Novak Djokovic can enter the country ahead of the Australian Open in January.

The governing body has no plans to make representations on behalf of Djokovic, who has not been vaccinated against Covid-19 and is subject to a three-year travel ban from Australia, but can apply to Immigration Secretary Andrew Giles for an exemption.

Earlier this year, Djokovic was deported from Australia days before the Open began, as the Australian government decided he may have disrupted civil order and his presence undermined the nation’s pandemic response.

At the start of the 2023 Open on Wednesday, Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley told reporters: “What we are saying at this point is that Novak and the federal government need to clarify the situation. And after that we follow all the instructions.

“I spent some time with Novak at the Laver Cup. We have spoken in general. He said that of course he would like to return to Australia, but he knows it will be a final decision for the federal government.

“He accepted this position. It’s a private matter between them. We’d love to welcome Novak back – he’s a nine-time champion.”

Tiley said that the registration deadline for the tournament is in December and that Djokovic must have established his eligibility by then.

Tiley also said players from Russia and Belarus – who were banned from Wimbledon this summer – would still be eligible, although Russian players would not be able to represent their nation and would instead play as independent athletes under a neutral banner.

“Like any other player, they have to go through a (visa) application process,” he said.

“The only difference would be that they cannot represent Russia, they cannot represent the flag of Russia, and they cannot participate in any activity like (playing) the anthem of Russia and have to play as independent players under a neutral ( country name.

“But they will be welcome at the Australian Open in January.”

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