World No.1 Novak Djokovic has expressed his desire to play at next year’s Australian Open, saying he holds no grudges after the visa debacle this year. Djokovic was deported from the country on the eve of this year’s Australian Open due to issues over his Covid vaccination status.
“I don’t know anything about whether my visa is going to be reinstated or whether I’m going to be allowed to come back to Australia. I would like to. I would like to go there and play the Australian Open,” he told a news conference.
“I don’t hold any grudges. Look, you know, it was what it was. If I have an opportunity to go back to Australia and play a place where I made the biggest success in my career in Grand Slam, I would love to come back.”
Djokovic, who is not vaccinated against COVID-19, was flown out of Australia after an 11-day ordeal at the discretion of the country’s immigration minister over concerns the tennis great could fuel anti-vax sentiment.
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Djokovic had spent some days in an immigration detention centre in Melbourne and had met refugees who had been there for years. Some have since been released.
“If that’s correct, then I’m obviously very happy about it, because I know that it was very difficult for them, particularly for the ones that stayed there for nine years,” Djokovic said.
“You know, I stayed there for a week, and I can’t imagine how they felt for nine years. If I brought some light to that situation then, you know, in a positive way for them, for this to happen, then of course I’m very happy.”
The debacle surrounding Djokovic deprived the 35-year-old of the chance to win a record-extending 10th Australian Open. He could have also claimed a record 21st Grand Slam title – a feat his rival Rafa Nadal managed to achieve in Melbourne instead.