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Djokovic declares Aus Open ‘out of my hands’ despite new vaccine travel rules

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Novak Djokovic is still awaiting word on whether he will be allowed to return to the Australian Open in January after missing the tournament this year because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19.

“It’s really not in my hands right now,” Djokovic said on Thursday at the Laver Cup.

“So I’m hoping I will get some positive news.”

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Djokovic is a 21-time grand slam singles champion – a total that stands second among men behind only Rafael Nadal’s 22 and one ahead of Roger Federer’s 20 – and he has won a record nine of those trophies at Melbourne Park.

But he was deported from Australia last January after a 10-day legal saga that culminated with his visa being revoked; he originally was granted an exemption to strict vaccination rules by two medical panels and Tennis Australia in order to play in the Australian Open.

Australia has since changed its border rules – since July 6, incoming travellers no longer have to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccinations or even provide a negative COVID test.

The Australian Border Force said after Djokovic’s visa was cancelled “a person whose visa has been cancelled may be subject to a three-year exclusion period that prevents the grant of a further temporary visa”.

However, it added: “The exclusion period will be considered as part of any new visa application and can be waived in certain circumstances, noting each case is assessed on its own merits.”

Novak Djokovic still hopes to play in the Australian Open next year. Credit: Getty

A Tennis Australia spokesperson said Friday any decision on Djokovic’s visa for the January 16-29, 2023 tournament was not its to make.

The 35-year-old Serbian insists he will not get the shots to protect against the virus, even if it means missing tennis events.

He was not able to enter two of this season’s four grand slam tournaments, including the US Open that ended this month.

The United States and Canada currently bar entry to foreign citizens who have not received COVID-19 vaccines, and so he also missed four other events in North America in 2022.

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Djokovic was able to get into France, losing to Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals at the French Open in June, and England, winning the title at Wimbledon in July.

The Laver Cup, which begins on Friday, is Djokovic’s first competition since Wimbledon.

“I don’t have any regrets. I mean, I do feel sad that I wasn’t able to play (at the US Open), but that was a decision that I made and I knew what the consequences would be,” he said Thursday.

“So I accepted them and that’s it.”

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Source: 7News