Tennis Australia won't lobby for Djokovic Melbourne return

By Sports Desk October 12, 2022

Novak Djokovic will receive no assistance from Tennis Australia in lobbying for his ban to the country to be lifted for next year's Australian Open, says boss Craig Tiley.

The Serbian was deported after having his visa cancelled on public health grounds ahead of this year's tournament having been initially allowed to enter the country in spite of his unvaccinated status, amid widespread furore over his apparent flaunting of strict regulations.

TA played a part in securing his arrival, with Djokovic under the belief a medical exemption would have allowed him to compete, and the 21-time grand slam champion indicated his hope to return despite a three-year ban from the nation.

Now, Tiley has said the governing body will not advocate for his return, and that it will ultimately be a decision for the Australian government.

"What we're saying at this point is that Novak and the federal government need to work out the situation, and then we’ll follow any instruction after that," he stated at the tournament launch.

"I did spend some time with Novak at the Laver Cup. We spoke generally. He said that he'd obviously love to come back to Australia, but he knows it’s going to be an ultimate decision for the federal government.

"He's accepted that position. It's a private matter between them. It's not a matter we can lobby on.”

The deadline for tournament applications is in December - and Tiley also revealed Russian and Belarusian players will be allowed to feature, albeit as independent athletes under a neutral flag.

The 2023 Australian Open is the first since the former invaded Ukraine earlier this year, and while Wimbledon barred players from both countries, they were permitted to compete at the French Open and US Open.

"At this point, Russian and Belarusian players will be eligible to play in the Australian Open," he said. "The only difference will be that they cannot represent Russia, cannot represent the flag of Russia.

"They cannot participate in any activity such as the anthem of Russia, and they have to play as independent players under a neutral name. But they will be welcome to the Australian Open in January."

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