Novak Djokovic has admitted that he is hoping for a warm welcome at next week’s Australian Open as he prepares to play his first match in Melbourne since being deported last year. The world No 5 hit headlines when his visa was cancelled twice upon arriving in Australia 12 months ago, with the messy situation ending in him being kicked out of the country. Now back to fight for a 10th Aussie Open crown, Djokovic addressed whether he held any grudges over the ordeal.
Djokovic made waves last January when he arrived in Australia unvaccinated and had his visa cancelled. During his 11 days in the country he successfully had his visa reinstated, spent time in a government detention hotel twice, and had his visa revoked again before losing an appeal and being deported on the eve of the 2022 Australian Open, when he was the world No 1 and defending champion.
A year later, the Serb’s return to Australia went smoothly and he entered as usual, playing last week’s ATP 250 in Adelaide where he won his 92nd tournament before travelling to Melbourne for a long-awaited crack at his 10th Australian Open trophy. With the tournament now just days away, this year’s fourth seed has shared his wish for a positive reception from the fans.
“I really hope that the crowd will be receiving me well I guess,” he told 9 News in what was his first Australian TV interview since last year’s events. “And that’s something that I can’t predict, that I don’t know. I obviously wish for the positive reception but it’s in their hands.”
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“A great reception. I couldn’t ask for a better start to the season,” he said after his first singles match in Australia in two years. “I mean, every experience and every day that I had so far my visit this year was positive. The people that I encountered on the beach or in restaurants or wherever I was kind of roaming around the city or of course here at the tennis, everybody was very welcoming.
“I can say only thank you, and I feel great. That obviously reflects on my tennis and my game, the way I feel on the court, because that’s something I want to focus on. That is the reason why I’m here, and hopefully it can stay that way.”