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Djokovic starts Australian Open bid at Adelaide

ADELAIDE, Australia (AFP) — Novak Djokovic will begin his bid for a 10th Australian Open title at Adelaide International after he was granted a visa to enter the country, organizers said Wednesday.

The world No. 5 missed the opening Grand Slam of 2022 when he was deported over his vaccine status after a high-stakes legal battle.

Australia has since lifted the requirement for visitors to show proof of Covid vaccination, and his three-year ban was overturned by the government in November.

Djokovic said at the time it was a “a relief.”

“The Australian Open has been my most successful Grand Slam.” he added.

“I made some of the best memories there.”

Djokovic will face a strong field from 1 to 8 January that also features Felix Auger-Aliassime, Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, ranked six, seven and eight, respectively, along with two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray.

His longtime-rival Rafael Nadal, the defending Australian Open champion, will instead use the United Cup, a new mixed teams event in Perth, Brisbane and Sydney, as his warm-up to the Grand Slam.

Four of the world’s top 10 women will begin the year in Adelaide, with second-ranked Ons Jabeur, world number five Aryna Sabalenka, world number eight Daria Kasatkina and world No. 9 Veronika Kudermetova all entered.

The field also includes two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka, 2022 Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina and Grand Slam winners Bianca Andreescu and Jelena Ostapenko.

“We are thrilled to confirm such a world-class lineup for week one of the Adelaide International,” tournament director Alistair MacDonald said in announcing the lineup for the ATP-WTA event.

The Australian Open takes place at Melbourne Park from 16 to 29 January.

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