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“There are some positive signs, but unofficially” – Djokovic cautiously hopeful about playing at Australian Open in 2023
Speaking to Serbian outlet Sportal, 21-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic spoke on the possibility of playing at the Australian Open, about the challenges he encountered this year, Carlos Alcaraz and more…
Novak Djokovic is currently in Belgrade preparing for the final stretch of the 2022 season. The former world number one confirmed his participation at the The Paris Masters, where he will be seeking his seventh title, as well as the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin, where he is looking to equal Federer’s record of six titles.
“Hoping for a positive answer” – Australian Open participation still the No 1 question
When it comes to Djokovic, though, most of the public eye is focused on whether he will be able to participate at the Australian Open in 2023 – the question being whether his three-year ban on seeking a visa will be lifted.
“I am over what happened this year and I just want to play tennis, it is what I do best. Australia has always been the place where I have played my best tennis, the results speak for themselves, so I am always extra motivated to go there. This time even more…”— Novak Djokovic
“When it comes to Australia, there are some positive signs, but unofficially,” 35-year-old Djokovic told Sportal. “We are communicating through my lawyers in Australia. In fact, they are communicating with the authorities in charge of my case. I hope to have an answer in the next few weeks – whatever that answer might be, but of course I am hoping for a positive one – so that I have enough time to prepare for the start of the season, if that start is going to happen in Australia.”
Djokovic, nine-time champion in Melbourne, is focused on the future and does not want to dwell on the past.
“I really want to go there, I am over what happened this year and I just want to play tennis, it is what I do best. Australia has always been the place where I have played my best tennis, the results speak for themselves, so I am always extra motivated to go there. This time even more, so.
“I am hoping for a positive answer.”
Valuable lessons learned in 2022
It was an awkward year for Djokovic filled with experiences he has not encountered before, but there were bright spots: he was also able to win his 21st Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, for starters.
“It was a very interesting year, peculiar,” Djokovic, currently ranked seventh in the world, said. “I always strive to draw positive things from whatever the experience is, that is part of my character and my approach to life. I know that everything that happened in Australia and afterwards – the way people have treated me, which did not feel nice and it is something I have never experienced before in my life – has helped me to learn some valuable lessons.
“Lessons about myself, about life and about the way I should move on in this world, especially in the tennis ecosystem.”
Djokovic says that above all, his love for the sport or tennis is what guides him through the difficult times.
“Many masks have fallen, so to say – throughout this process, it was interesting for me to observe the way some people behaved towards me this year. I keep going, motivated and inspired,” he said. “I love this sport, I love giving it my all in every practice because every day is different, and there is always some sort of excitement, some sort of unknown, it is a challenge. The young guns are coming, they are hungry for success, so that is something that gives me extra motivation as well.”
“It is a good thing that they have now opened the borders for the unvaccinated foreigners traveling to Australia. I have that ban, I hope it will be lifted. As I said, it is not in my hands, I hope the people in the Australian Government will give a positive answer, that is all.”— Novak Djokovic
Djokovic: “I never tried to be disrespectful”
Djokovic reiterated that he hopes things will go back to normal regarding rules for entering Australia and the United States, so that he is allowed to play there again.
“Some of the biggest tournaments in the world are held there… I respect that everyone has a different way of thinking in relation to my situation and my circumstances. After all, I have never offended anyone or ever tried to be disrespectful in any way. I always tried to show that it is important for everyone to have the right and freedom of choice.
“For the choices I made, I new there would be certain consequences like not going to America, and that is it. For Australia it was a different case, I had the exception, but in the end it did not work out. We know what happened, let’s not go back. This time I am waiting for the permission again. It is a good thing that they have now opened the borders for the unvaccinated foreigners traveling to Australia. I have that ban, I hope it will be lifted. As I said, it is not in my hands, I hope the people in the Australian Government will give a positive answer, that is all.”
We all benefit from the rise of Alcaraz
This year, Carlos Alcaraz has ascended to the top of the tennis world by winning US Open and winning four other titles, including two Masters 1000 trophies in Miami and Madrid.
“Alcaraz is the world number one, he is the best. Nothing more to add, the rankings show it. It is a fact that I played less, Wimbledon points did not count, maybe it would have been different in different circumstances, but that is a ’what if’” Djokovic told Sportal.
“It is what it is, he absolutely deserved to be where he is – I congratulate him for all the success he has had. I think it is great for tennis that such a young guy achieved so many historic results and milestones, because that attracts a lot of attention for our sport, so we all benefit. I am sure that Nadal will try to dethrone him until the end of the year, he has got a chance.
“And then we turn a new leaf next season, let’s see what happens.”