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TURIN, Italy (AFP) — Novak Djokovic confirmed he has received a visa to travel to Melbourne to play in the 2023 Australian Open after missing this year’s tournament when he was deported over his vaccine status.

“I was very happy to receive the news yesterday. It was a relief,” the Serbian said after beating Andrey Rublev in the ATP Finals in Turin.

“It was a relief obviously knowing what I and people closest to me in my life have been through this year with what happened in Australia and post-Australia obviously. I could not receive better news for sure, during this tournament as well.”

On Tuesday, Australian media reported that the government had decided to grant the unvaccinated Serbian a visa, overturning a three-year ban after his ejection from the country.

This year’s championship was overshadowed by nine-time Australian Open champion Djokovic being put on a plane on the eve of the contest after a high-stakes legal battle over his visa status.

“Australian Open has been my most successful Grand Slam,” Djokovic said.

“I made some of the best memories there.”

Djokovic was speaking after securing a spot in the Last Four of the season-ending Finals with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Rublev, his second straight sets victory in as many matches.

He said the news from Australia had been a boost.

“Did it affect my game today? I would like to believe it did.” he said.

“Knowing that I have clarity now, what I do in the off-season, starting the season in Australia, also of course did relieve some of the pressure.”

He shattered Rublev’s resistance in just a few games after taking the only break point either player had in the first set at 4-4.

Djokovic served out the set and then exploited Rublev’s frustration to break again early in the second as he went 3-0 ahead and cruised to victory.

“One of the best matches I played this year, particularly in the second set. Just a flawless set really.”

Having beaten Stefanos Tsitsipas in his first Red Group match on Monday, the Serb is guaranteed a spot in the last four regardless of his result on Friday against Daniil Medvedev.

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