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Novak Djokovic receives positive sign over Australian Open return as he awaits ban verdict

Novak Djokovic has received a positive hint in his wait to learn whether he will be allowed to return to Australia for the first Grand Slam of 2023. The nine-time Australian Open champion was deported ahead of the tournament this year, receiving an automatic three-year ban from returning to the country. But the tournament director and Tennis Australia boss has now hinted that he believes Djokovic will be able to return.

Djokovic is facing an anxious wait to learn whether he can play January’s Australian Open after being deported on the eve of the tournament at the start of this year. Those who are deported from Australia receive an automatic three-year ban from returning to the country but can have this lifted with a successful appeal.

The world No 7 is now waiting to see if this can happen in time for the first Grand Slam of 2023, and has received some positive news as Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley hinted that all of the big names would be in Melbourne come January. “We are on track to have all the top players back,” he said on Wednesday during a Melbourne Victory luncheon.

The Tennis Australia CEO also noted that things were very different in the country compared to January, when the country’s then-Immigration Minister Alex Hawke revoked Djokovic’s visa over his ability to “excite anti-vax sentiment” in Australia with his presence as an unjabbed foreign national.

Tiley added: “We are at a different point in time now than we were nine months ago and I think it’s a very different environment with people travelling freely around the world and we hope to have all the best players here in January.”

Australia has seen a new government come into power since Djokovic’s fiasco Down Under that saw him have his visa cancelled twice – once successfully appealing to have it reinstated and then losing an appeal which saw him deported the night before the Australian Open started. It means that the decision to allow Djokovic to return will not lie with those who kicked him out of the country in January.

The 35-year-old briefly addressed the situation at the recent Laver Cup, admitting he had no news on the situation. “I’m waiting for the news. It’s really not in my hands right now. I’m hoping I can get some positive news soon,” Djokovic said last month.

The 21-time Grand Slam champion has not played a Major tournament since winning Wimbledon in July, as he was unable to travel to America for the US Open with unvaccinated foreign nationals still banned from entering the country.

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