Novak Djokovic’s hope of returning to the Australian Open have received a boost with Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley admitting they are “doing their best” to find a resolution. Djokovic headed into 2022 looking to build on the three Grand Slam titles he claimed last year.
The Australian Open was set to be his best chance of moving clear of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in the race to finish with the most Grand Slam titles. But his vaccine status and the restrictions in place in Australia meant his participation was under threat.
The Serbian tennis ace was granted a medical exemption to travel to Melbourne to compete in the first major of the year. However, he was sent to a detention hotel upon arrival after the federal government intervened and insisted Djokovic would not be able to compete at the Australian Open.
A legal battle entailed as Djokovic won his first appeal, but Australia’s immigration minister Alex Hawke went on to cancel his visa later in the week, forcing Djokovic to be deported from the country just one day before the tournament started. Nadal went on to win the title to move him ahead of Djokovic and Federer on 21 before adding another at the French Open.
Djokovic has pulled one back after winning Wimbledon, but the Covid restrictions currently in place in both the United States and Australia mean he could feasibly not play another slam until the French Open next year. Tiley tried to lend his support to Djokovic during the Australian Open visa fiasco a few months ago and he is clearly hoping the restrictions will be lifted in time for next year’s competition.
“I think we are doing our best,” he told Sport Klub. “Of course, it’s not my decision whether he will be able to play at the Australian Open, but Novak is always welcome, he knows that many people in Australia like to watch him play.
“It is up to others to make a decision, but there is still a lot of time before the Australian Open next year. I think everyone should be enjoying his Wimbledon victory now.”
Djokovic is relying on US Open officials lifting their ban on unvaccinated players from flying into the States. Speaking after his win over Nick Kyrgios in the Wimbledon final, Djokovic said: “I’m not vaccinated and I’m not planning to get vaccinated.”
There has been some support for Djokovic from fellow players, with America’s ban only being in place for individuals entering the country who are not vaccinated. That means players such as Tennys Sandgren will be able to play in his home nation’s major without any problem, despite also being unvaccinated.