Rafael Nadal has given his reaction to the news that Novak Djokovic will be allowed to travel to Melbourne in January to compete at the Australian Open.
The Serbian, currently in action at the year-ending Nitto ATP Finals, was deported just before the 2022 edition started and saw his visa cancelled “in the public interest”.
However, reports on Tuesday suggested Immigration Minister Andrew Giles would allow Djokovic a visa, overturning his automatic three-year ban.
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The decision was confirmed by the BBC and Djokovic expressed his delight and relief when speaking to Eurosport in Turin.
Now the defending champion in Melbourne, Nadal, has given his response to the news.
“I always said the same: tennis is better when the best players are on the court,” Nadal said at the ATP Finals in Turin.
“At the end, we don’t have to create many stories. Even if [it] was a big mess what happened last year in Australia, was not good for our sport. That was past.
"Roger [Federer] is not playing anymore. I missed a lot of Grand Slams for injuries. Last year Novak was not able to play there. That is [the] past.
“What is next is Novak will be able to play again. That’s the best news possible, especially knowing that now the virus is more under control – seems – around the world. So why not?
“Happy for him. Happy for the tournament. Happy for the fans. That’s it.”
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For Djokovic, the decision represents "a great new year present" as he seeks to add another title at Melbourne Park to his record tally of nine.
"In terms of your next question related to Australia, yes I received the news yesterday morning and I was very, very happy to hear that news," Djokovic told Eurosport at the ATP Finals.
"It has been a tough year with everything that happened, obviously, in Australia for me and for the people who are close in my life.
"This came as a great new year present, I think, and I am looking forward to going to Australia and hopefully having another successful Australian Open, that has been historically my most successful Grand Slam.
"I had some of my best memories on that court. Hopefully, I can make more positive memories there."
Not only is Nadal the reigning champion at Melbourne Park, he also holds a fragile one-Slam lead over Djokovic in the all-time standings with 22 major singles titles to his name. The Australian Open will certainly have a lot on the line.
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Stream the 2023 Australian Open live on discovery+ and eurosport.co.uk
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