Despite the deportation drama that dominated the Australian summer of tennis, Novak Djokovic has no hard feelings against the nation.

Novak Djokovic has expressed a desire to return to Australia, despite his deportation drama before the 2022 Australian Open.

Djokovic claimed his 21st grand slam title this week after defeating Aussie Nick Kyrgios in the Wimbledon final.

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Djokovic’s attentions have already turned to what’s next as he seeks to get ahead of Rafael Nadal, who currently holds the record for most grand slam titles on 22.

The next grand slam, the US Open, starts in late August but currently the 35-year-old doesn’t believe he will be able to play at the tournament due to America’s Covid laws on unvaccinated people entering the country.

Djokovic has refused to have a Covid jab, which led to his deportation from Australia earlier this year.

Speaking to reporters as he opened a tennis centre in Bosnia, Djokovic revealed he still hadn’t given up on returning to Australia.

“I was deported from the country to which I would like to come back,” Djokovic said.

“I would love to come back to Australia. I love Australia, I had my best Grand Slam results in that country.

“Hopefully in January I can be there because I want to be there, and I also want to be in New York. I want to be in America, I want to be everywhere I can possibly play.

“I am a professional tennis player, I don’t go into politics or anything else because that doesn’t interest me.

“I have my stance and I am a proponent for freedom to choose what is best for you. I respect everything and everybody, and at least I expect people to respect my decision.

“If I have permission, I’ll be there. If I don’t, I won’t be there – it’s not the end of the world.

“I still feel young in my own skin, I feel I have many more years to come so there will be a lot of opportunities.”

Djokovic is unvaccinated against Covid-19 and has been strong in his opposition to getting the jab.

The Australian drama began when Djokovic’s entry visa was cancelled as he tried to enter the country for the Australian Open, just hours after he had touted his “exemption permission” on Instagram as he boarded a flight to Australia.

Then Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed Djokovic never had an exemption in the first place which was the beginning of the long ordeal.

“People still think I forced my way to Australia and tried to come in with no paper, permission or exemption – it is not true,” Djokovic said.

“That was proven on the court case, so I would never go into a country where I didn’t have permission to travel.”

Djokovic won the first court battle, which overturned his visa cancellation but a decision by then Immigration Minister Alex Hawke cancelled his visa “on health and good order grounds”.

Djokovic was then deported from the country on the eve of the Australian Open, which was won by Rafael Nadal.

Australian Open director Craig Tiley said earlier this week he had no control over Djokovic being allowed into the country but hoped the Serbian star would be allowed to play in front of Australian audiences again.

“I think we are doing our best,” Tiley said. “Clearly, 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.

“I think we are doing our best. Clearly, 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.”

The Australian government has also relaxed rules for international arrivals who no longer need to declare their Covid vaccination status.

This is despite 47,095 cases and 73 deaths in Australia in the July 13 numbers.

Djokovic was also banned for three years over the visa cancellation but Australian law allows for compelling or compassionate reasons to waive the ban.

The Serbian star was able to play the French Open and Wimbledon but it is up in the air whether he can play in the US Open due to the nation’s vaccination laws.

“I’m not vaccinated and I’m not planning to get vaccinated so the only good news I can have is them removing the mandated green vaccine card or whatever you call it to enter United States or exemption,” Djokovic said after his Wimbledon triumph over Aussie Nick Kyrgios.

“I don’t know. I don’t think exemption is realistically possible. If that is possibility, I don’t know what exemption would be about.

“I don’t know. I don’t have much answers there.”

Djokovic has been resigned to not playing in New York but hoped the American rules would change between now and the start of the US Open.

“At the moment I can’t go to the United States, I’m hoping for positive news, but there’s not a lot of time, I don’t know, hope springs eternal,” he told Serbian broadcasters RTS.

“I’d like to play the US Open but if it doesn’t happen it’s not the end of the world, nor the first Grand Slam I have to withdraw from.

“It’s important to me to stay healthy, physically and mentally, so I can still play for a long time and the chances to do so will certainly come.”

With AFP

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