Novak Djokovic arrives in Australia ahead of the Australian Open
Novak Djokovic has reportedly touched down in Australia ahead of the first major of 2023.
The 21-time Grand Slam champion is back in Australia a year after he was deported from the country amid a COVID-19 vaccine storm that created headlines around the world.
Djokovic was initially banned from the country for three years after losing his high-stakes legal battle earlier this year over his vaccine status, but he has been allowed to return to play at next month’s Australian Open.
Serbia missed out on the United Cup owing to Djokovic’s failure to declare for the event which meant that the emerging tennis power didn’t have the rankings clout to get into the event.
That also means that Djokovic is set to start his season in Adelaide at the outset of the new year.
Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley said he hoped local fans would embrace Djokovic’s return after the Serb’s controversial last visit.
Determined to win his tenth Aussie Open title, Djokovic’s bloody-mindedness over the issue has split opinions.
Some hailed him as a champion of autonomy from the state others encouraged him of peddling dangerous views.
However, all of that is set to take a backseat to his on-court return.
While a mixed response from fans is possible, Djokovic is expected to enjoy his usual high levels of support from neutrals during the Australian Open season even if the wider public holds divergent views on the star.
“We welcome him back to Australia,” he told reporters.
“I think as we speak he’s landing in Adelaide and I think that he is going to be again the player to beat.
“I have a great deal of confidence in the Australian public. I have a lot of confidence that the fans will react how we hope they will react.”
Djokovic himself is cautiously optimistic about the reception he will receive in Australia.
“Over the years I’ve been really fortunate to start very strong in Australia and I love playing there,” the world number five said in Dubai last week after ending 2022 with a record-equalling sixth ATP Tour Finals crown.
“After obviously what happened earlier this year, hopefully I can have a decent reception there and hopefully that can help me play some good tennis.”
Djokovic last arrived in Melbourne in January for the first Grand Slam tournament of the year, after he had obtained a medical exemption to enter the Australian Open without being vaccinated because he had recently recovered from COVID-19.
However, Australian border officials said he did not meet the requirements to be exempted from strict vaccination rules and he was detained for five days while pursuing an ultimately futile appeal.
WATCH: Intense Felix Auger-Aliassime brushes off Laver Cup spat with Gael Monfils
Felix Auger-Aliassime and Gael Monfils shared some heated moments after the Canadian complained to the umpire during their Laver Cup clash.
More questions for Andy Murray to answer after another agonising defeat
Andy Murray blew an early lead as he crashed to defeat against Aslan Karatsev in the last 16.
Roger Federer reveals what he misses about tennis as Rafael Nadal surprises him
Speaking in an interview with former world No 1 Jim Courier at the Laver Cup, the 20-time Grand Slam champion reflected on how his life chan
Top coach spotted Coco Gauff’s potential very early on
Patrick Mouratoglou has revealed that Coco Gauff left a big impression on him during their first meeting.
British star set for rankings breakthrough after a decade on the ATP Tour
Liam Broady set to break into the top 100 of the ATP rankings for the first time.
Guadalajara proves a balm for Maria Sakkari’s suffering once again
Maria Sakkari feels that the bond between herself and Guadalajara has grown closer after another deep run in the Mexican city.
Novak Djokovic hits raw nerve with tennis chiefs after latest controversial comments
Djokovic has made some radical proposals that would ensure the huge amounts of cash being generated by gambling goes to tennis players.
Ben Shelton salutes the three players who have taken him under their wing
Ben Shelton has paid homage to the brotherhood of the top American men in the game.
Can Cameron Norrie still reach the ATP Tour finals powered by strong Asian swing?
Cameron Norrie is out to reach the ATP Tour finals this term.