(Reuters) – Novak Djokovic will play Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti at the Dubai Tennis Championships in the Serbian’s first match since he was deported from Australia in January over his COVID-19 vaccination status.
The 34-year-old Djokovic, who is unvaccinated, was deported after an 11-day rollercoaster involving two visa cancellations, two court challenges and five nights in two stints at an immigration detention hotel where asylum seekers are held.
Dubai tournament director Salah Tahlak said the organisers had no concerns about the world number one’s vaccination status.
“The government here does not require someone to be vaccinated to enter the country,” Tahlak told Eurosport.
The United Arab Emirates is gradually lifting COVID-related restrictions. Spectators at the tennis will be required to wear face masks and maintain social distancing, tournament organisers said on their website.
If top seed Djokovic beats world number 57 Musetti, he will face either Russia’s Karen Khachanov or Australia’s Alex de Minaur.
The tournament, which also features top-10 players Andrey Rublev, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Jannik Sinner, starts on Monday.
The men’s competition follows the WTA portion of the tournament, with 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko taking on Veronika Kudermetova in Saturday’s women’s final.
(Reporting by Aadi Nair in Bengaluru; editing by Clare Fallon)