Novak Djokovic faces a few more nervy months in the build-up to next year's first Grand Slam tournament, as he waits with bated breath to see if luck favors him with regards to his visa saga in time for the 2023 Australian Open. However, he will remain unsuccessful in getting into Australia and will miss another Australian Open, according to leading tennis writer Pete Bodo.
As things stand, the Serbian tennis great cannot enter Australia until January 2025 due to a three-year visa ban owing to deportation. Current rules in Australia allow unvaccinated foreigners entry into the country, which gives Djokovic some hope of having his visa ban overturned, but Bodo believes that will not be the case as the Serb will not receive a special exemption.
Speaking to Patrick McEnroe during a recent episode of the Holding Court with Patrick McEnroe podcast, Bodo opined that most governments will not give special attention to a tennis player where something as serious as a visa ban is concerned.
"Right now, I would say no, because the Australians have been very 'draw on the line and stick to it,' as we saw in his first attempt there this past year," Bodo said to McEnroe.
According to Bodo, the Serb's only hope is for the rules themselves to undergo a drastic change before then.
"If they do it, it would have to be not an exemption for him, but a change in the basic rules that would apply to anybody else in a similar situation...Governments in big countries don't care if you're a big tennis player, as we've seen in other instances as well," Bodo, the author of multiple tennis books, added.
Patrick McEnroe also shared his views on the matter, holding a different opinion from Bodo's. According to McEnroe, while the three-year ban is a big problem for Djokovic, his case is very individualistic and the change in Australia's vaccine mandate will help the Serb.
"It is actually individual for him because he was the guy that was thrown outside the country," McEnroe expressed, adding, "Right now, if you're unvaccinated, you can get into the country. The rules have totally changed in Australia...From that standpoint, Djokovic would be allowed. But because he got deported last year, there's this 3-year ban."
"He will get back into the country, I hope that for the sake of tennis" - Patrick McEnroe on Novak Djokovic's Australian Open chances
Patrick McEnroe further shed light on Novak Djokovic's Australia saga, revealing some information he has learned from sources in Australia. According to McEnroe, Australians are confident that the country's government will overturn the deportation ruling specific to Djokovic's case.
"I'm told by my sources in Australia that they think that because there's a new government in charge now, they will change that ruling. They have the authority to change it," McEnroe stated.
"In this situation, they would just have to reverse the deportation portion of it...and apparently, they can do that."
He further expressed his hope of seeing the nine-time champion competing in the 2023 edition "for the sake of tennis."
"My feeling and opinion is that he will get back into the country. I hope that happens for tennis, for the sake of tennis, and this bunch of people that gave me s**t that we should've let him in the US," McEnroe said further.
If the 35-year-old Serbian tennis great eventually misses the 2023 Australian Open, he will miss out on competing in his third Grand Slam tournament since the start of the 2021 season.
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