Novak Djokovic hopes to have a good reception from the public at the Australian Tennis Open (January 16-29), a Grand Slam tournament that he won nine times and to which the former world number one will return in January, after missing the 2022 edition for his refusal to vaccinate against covid.
“After what happened last year, I hope to be properly received and that this will help me play my best tennis,” the Serb told reporters in Dubai on Friday.
The current number five in the ATP ranking had an unpleasant experience last January when he was expelled from the country due to his vaccination status, in the midst of a political-judicial conflict with wide media coverage.
Djokovic, not vaccinated against Covid-19, arrived at Melbourne airport with a waiver that was ultimately rejected. After a few days of legal dispute, he was expelled from Australia just before the tournament, after spending several days in a migrant center. He was punished with a three-year ban on entering the territory.
Since then, the obligation to be vaccinated to enter the country was lifted in Australia and the Serb obtained his visa. The ban on entering his territory was also lifted, in November.
“In the past I always had the opportunity to start my years in Australia very strong and I like playing there,” Djokovic said.
He started 2022 as world number one and fell positions in the rankings, in a season in which he was unable to play two Grand Slam events (Australia and the United States), in both cases due to not being vaccinated.
He was able to win Wimbledon and finished the year very well, taking the Masters 1000 in Paris-Bercy and the season-ending Masters in Turin.
“I would like to be able to play as long as possible,” said Djokovic, asked about his future.
“I don’t really have numbers in mind. Things are going well for me so far. I can not complain. So as long as I play at this level, as long as I feel like it, I will continue”, explained the tennis player from Belgrade.
In case of achieving a tenth title at the Australian Open, he will equal the record for number of Grand Slam titles, currently set at 22 by the Spanish Rafael Nadal.
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