Novak Djokovic Is Cleared to Play in Australian Open

Mr. Djokovic is extremely popular among his fellow players, many of whom have been angry that the rules have sidelined him. Australia’s decision could go a long way toward helping the Open regain its status among players as the so-called “Happy Slam.”

Mr. Nadal won last year’s Open after Mr. Djokovic was deported, beating Daniil Medvedev in a five-hour, 24-minute victory described by many as one for the history books. Mr. Djokovic, it seems, will now seek to write some history of his own.

He had a rocky comeback after Australia deported him, struggling to find his rhythm and a level of comfort on the court. He began to hit his stride during the clay court season in the spring, as much of Europe began to ease its restrictions on unvaccinated people.

The relaxation of those rules allowed him to become less of a pariah and put the focus back on his tennis. At Wimbledon, he won his seventh singles title, his 21st overall, putting him one ahead of Roger Federer and one behind Mr. Nadal on the all-time list.

But as tennis shifted to the hard court season in North America, his year screeched to a halt, since the United States continued to bar unvaccinated foreigners from entering the country. That prevented him from playing in the U.S. Open, where he would have been among the favorites.

Mr. Djokovic has had to scramble to qualify for this week’s ATP Finals in Turin, in part because being unvaccinated forced him to miss so many events and because the ATP Tour did not award any rankings points for Wimbledon, a punishment for that tournament’s decision to prohibit players from Russia and Belarus from competing.

After beating Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece on Monday night, Mr. Djokovic credited his run at Wimbledon with giving him the confidence to compete against the best players with little preparation.

“It always comes, really, throughout my career, at exactly the time that I need it to come,” he said of Wimbledon. “It was a huge relief, but at the same time also a huge boost of confidence.”

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