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Djokovic back in Australia and says no hard feelings over COVID vaccine deportation

Novak Djokovic claims he is happy to be back in Australia after his January deportation, but admits that it was an experience that will stick with him for the rest his life.

After being denied entry to Australia, the 21-time Grand Slam singles champion had been detained at an immigration hotel 12 months prior to his arrival. He was then released after his visa was cancelled because he was unvaccinated.

A well-known vaccine sceptic it was feared that the presence of the Serbian star might stoke antivaccine sentiment.

During the pandemic, Australia was subject to one of the most severe coronavirus lockdowns in the world.

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With no COVID-19 vaccination required to enter Australia, and after a change in government, Djokovic has successfully challenged the three-year ban when applying for a visa.

The season of the 35-year old will start next week at the Adelaide International tournament.

Djokovic said at a press conference that he cannot forget those events. It’s one those things that stays with you and it stays with your for the rest of your life. It was something I had never experienced before and one that I will never experience again.

Novak Djokovic: More

It is a valuable experience in my life. I must move on. Returning to Australia reflects how I feel about Australia and how I feel about playing here.

“I really hoped that I would be granted permission to return to Australia to play in the sport of tennis. It’s a country I’ve enjoyed tremendous success in my professional career.

“I felt great in Australia. I was always at my best and received lots of support. I hope to have another fantastic summer.

Public opinion was strongly against his entry to the country at the time of his deportation. The next month will reveal how his fans will react to him.

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Djokovic spoke out about his reception thus far and said that he hoped they would be positive. It’s impossible to predict. I will do my best to bring the crowd good vibes and tennis.

“I have been here for two days. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming, from the staff at the hotel to the airport to those at the tournament, to the people at the club and to me at the tournament. We also went to dinner last night. It’s all good for now.

Djokovic was also unable to participate in the Australian Open.

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Novak Djokovic lifts the Wimbledon 2022 trophy

He will be entering the Australian Open as the favourite to win the title, despite his ranking dropping to five.

He said that he does not feel any ill-will towards Melbourne.

“I bring positive emotions to the table and look forward to playing there. It has been my favorite slam and the results prove it.

The prize money for singles has been increased by 3.4% to 76.5 million Australian dollars (around PS42.7m). Singles champions will each take home 2.975m Australian Dollars (around PS1.66m).

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