Novak Djokovic has declared he wants to come back to Australia after sensationally being kicked out of the country ahead of the 2022 Australian Open.

Djokovic, who has been steadfast in his refusal to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, announced ahead of the Australian Open that he had received “exemption permission” to enter Australia to play in the first grand slam of the year.

You can watch Novak Djokovic’s announcement in the video above

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But upon entry into the country, Djokovic was held in a detention centre in Carlton before being deported by then-immigration minister Alex Hawke.

The world No.1’s absence left the door ajar for long-time rival Rafael Nadal to claim his 21st grand slam title and take the outright lead for most men’s grand slam titles. Nadal then won the French Open later in the year, taking his tally to 22.

Djokovic closed the gap back to one by winning Wimbledon earlier this month, and he’s already looking ahead to his next opportunities.

As it currently stands, Djokovic will be ineligible to compete at the last grand slam of the year, the US Open, given America’s still strict vaccination laws for people entering the country.

At the opening of a tennis centre in Bosnia, Djokovic announced he’s holding out hope for a return to Melbourne in 2023.

“I was deported from the country to which I would like to come back,” he said.

Novak Djokovic wants to return to Australia. Credit: Xinhua News Agency/Xinhua News Agency via Getty Ima

“I would love to come back to Australia. I love Australia, I had my best grand slam results in that country.

“Hopefully in January I can be there because I want to be there, and I also want to be in New York. I want to be in America, I want to be everywhere I can possibly play.

“I am a professional tennis player; I don’t go into politics or anything else because that doesn’t interest me.

“I have my stance and I am a proponent for freedom to choose what is best for you. I respect everything and everybody, and at least I expect people to respect my decision.”

Djokovic is willing to accept missing out on playing if he’s not allowed.

“If I have permission, I’ll be there. If I don’t, I won’t be there – it’s not the end of the world,” he said.

“I still feel young in my own skin, I feel I have many more years to come so there will be a lot of opportunities.”

The Novak Djokovic saga threatened to overshadow the 2022 Australian Open. Credit: Diego Fedele/Getty Images

The start of the 2022 Australian Open was somewhat overshadowed by the ongoing Djokovic saga. Then-prime minister Scott Morrison was staunch in his refusal to let Djokovic stay in the country, revealing that the tennis star never had an exemption.

Djokovic is still adamant he had one.

“People still think I forced my way to Australia and tried to come in with no paper, permission or exemption – it is not true,” he said.

“That was proven on the court case, so I would never go into a country where I didn’t have permission to travel.”

Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley said “we are doing our best” but isn’t sure if Djokovic will be allowed to play in next year’s Australian Open.

Craig Tiley would like to see Novak Djokovic back at the Australian Open. Credit: Hamish Blair/AP

“Clearly, it’s not my decision whether he will be able to play at the Australian Open, but Novak is always welcome, he knows that many people in Australia like to watch him play,” Tiley said.

With the US Open now just over a month away, Djokovic holds out little hope he will be able to compete at Flushing Meadows.

“At the moment I can’t go to the United States, I’m hoping for positive news, but there’s not a lot of time, I don’t know, hope springs eternal,” he told Serbian broadcaster, RTS.

“I’d like to play the US Open but if it doesn’t happen it’s not the end of the world, nor the first Grand Slam I have to withdraw from.

“It’s important to me to stay healthy, physically and mentally, so I can still play for a long time and the chances to do so will certainly come.”

Following his Wimbledon victory over Aussie Nick Kyrgios, Djokovic again doubled down on his decision to refuse the vaccine.

“I’m not vaccinated and I’m not planning to get vaccinated so the only good news I can have is them removing the mandated green vaccine card or whatever you call it to enter United States or exemption,” he said.

“I don’t think exemption is realistically possible.”