Australian Open boss Craig Tiley has been dropping strong hints that Novak Djokovic might be in line for a return to the Grand Slam a year after his ban for trying to enter the country without a COVID vaxx.

Tiley dropped a few choice breadcrumbs to local media as the rehabilitation campaign for the now-barred anti-vaxx Serb grinds into motion in time for January’s upcoming edition of the major.

Djokovic, who was detained in a Melbourne immigration facility for nearly a week last January and eventually deported from Australia, theoretically faces a three-year ban from re-entry.

But Tiley may be hoping to curry ministerial favour from the politico who could reverse the decision and allow the former No. 1 to cross the border in time for the 2023 edition.

“We are on the way to having the best players on the circuit back – all of them,” Tiley said.

“Right now we are in a health situation very different from that of recent months, with people who move freely around the world and in which there are hardly any restrictions.

“This makes me think that we will be able to count on the best players on the planet.”

Djokovic missed out this season on the four Masters 1000 events played in North America due to his refusal to get vaxxed; he currently ranks seventh and is getting match practice at far-flung events including Israel and Kazakhstan.

Meanwhile Djokovic appears to be biding his time in the international power struggle.

“I’m still waiting for news about the lifting of the three-year ban that was imposed on me at the beginning of the year,” he said this week at the ATP Kazakh event.

“When it is lifted, it will be necessary to apply for a visa It’s a two-step process. I hope this happens because I want to play in Australia.

“Whatever happens, I’ll make a decision in the next few months.”