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Nearly one year after being deported by Australia’s draconian government for choosing not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, Novak Djokovic has returned to the land down under.
The 35-year-old is set to compete in the Adelaide International and took the practice court with a smile on his face as he began his prep work for the event beginning on New Year’s Day.
Djokovic was deported from Australia last January after a 10-day legal saga that ended with his visa being revoked. Originally the Serbian was granted an exemption from Australia’s extremely strict vaccination rules to play in last year’s tournament, but that exemption was quickly reversed.
People who are deported from Australia automatically receive a three-year ban from returning to the country, but an exception has been made for Djokovic.
The new government leaders who have taken office in Australia and the decision-makers who kicked Djokovic out of the country last year no longer have authority.
Djokovic was forced to miss both the U.S. Open and the Australian Open in 2022 after choosing not to get the jab, but is slated to play in the 2023 Aussie Open beginning on January 16.
He won Wimbledon in July 2022 and would have been the favorite in the 2022 U.S. Open if allowed to play, but was not allowed to enter the United States to chase history. Djokovic is one Grand Slam singles title away from tying Rafael Nadal’s all-time record of 22.
The 35-year-old has won nine Australian Opens in his career, including three straight from 2019-2021.
Follow Mark Harris on Twitter @ItIsMarkHarris