Novak Djokovic holds ‘no grudges’ about Australian Open saga and vows to play Slam in 2023

Novak Djokovic has insisted he holds “no grudges” against Australia and he will go back to the Australian Open next year if he is allowed. And the world No.1 said he hoped the publicity surrounding his deportation contributed to the recent release of the final immigrants from the detention hotel where he was held.

The Serbian received an automatic three-year ban from the country after his visa was cancelled by the Australian government because of his stance against Covid vaccinations. But there is now a new administration in Canberra after prime minister Scott Morrison lost the recent election. Labour Party leader Anthony Albanese is now in charge.

Speaking after reaching the fourth round of the French Open, Djokovic said: “I heard the news, but, I don’t know anything about whether my visa is going to be reinstated or whether I’m going to be allowed to come back to Australia. I would like to. I would like to go there and play the Australian Open.

“I don’t hold any grudges. Look, it was what it was. If I have an opportunity to go back to Australia and play a place where I made the biggest success in my career on Grand Slam, I would love to come back. Let’s see how it goes.”


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The final eight immigrants from the Park Hotel in Melbourne – where Djokovic was held before his deportation – were released last month and were given temporary visas to stay Down Under. “If that’s correct, then I’m obviously very happy about it because I know that it was very difficult for them, particularly for the ones that stayed there for nine years. I stayed there for a week, and I can’t imagine how they felt for nine years,” he added.

“They haven’t done anything wrong, and they are asylum seekers and stayed for nine years. If I brought some light to that situation, then, you know, in a positive way for them, for this to happen, then of course I’m very happy, because they got another chance in a different country. We underestimate freedom.”

Djokovic also revealed he has contacted one of Boris Becker’s sons to offer help since the German tennis legend was sent to prison for fraud. The world No.1 was coached by Becker for three seasons from 2014-16 as the Serb won six Grand Slams – including his first French Open. “I have been in touch with one of his sons, Noah, and asked if there is something that I could do to help,” he said.


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The Serb remains on collision course for a blockbuster quarter-final with Rafa Nadal on Tuesday. And the two superstars of tennis were watched by big names from football and cinema yesterday with the Champions League final and the Cannes Film Festival also on this week.

Arsene Wenger, Clarence Seedorf and Claude Puel watched Djokovic while Zinedine Zidane, Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson saw Nadal. And after destroying Aljaz Bedene 6-3 6-3 6-2, Djokovic said: “It’s an honour to have these legends of the football world coming to watch me.

“I saw Arsene at the beginning of the match. It positively affected me. I had even more motivation to perform well in front of them.” Real Madrid fan Nadal, who beat Dutchman Botic Van De Zandschulp 6-3 6-2 6-4 victory, plans to go to the final on Saturday night.

“I didn’t see Zidane but I knew it was him, I knew he was there because I was hearing the crowd calling him all the time,” said the Spaniard. “So I imagine he was there, but I didn’t had the chance to see him after my match or talk with him at all.

“Let’s see how I wake up tomorrow, because, you know, you never know with my body how the surprises are there. But if nothing happens, and I expect nothing happens, and if I’m able to have the right practice tomorrow, yeah, my intention and my goal is be there.”

The Spaniard will on Sunday face Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, who is now coached by Nadal’s uncle Toni.

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