Novak Djokovic hopes to receive a warm welcome from the public at the Australian Open, a Grand Slam tournament he has won nine times and where the former world No.1 will make his return in January, after having missed the 2022 edition. “After what happened last year, I hope that I will be properly welcomed and that it will help me to play my best tennis”, the Serb told reporters in Dubai on Friday.
The current world number 5 was unable to travel to Melbourne last year, after being expelled from the country because of his vaccination status, at the end of a hyper-mediatized political-judicial saga. Not vaccinated against Covid-19, he had tried to return to the territory with an exemption finally refused, and had been expelled just before the start of the tournament after spending several days in a center for migrants. He had also been struck by a three-year inadmissibility.
Novak Djokovic in training ahead of the Australian Open 2022, which he was ultimately unable to attend. (A.Yamoaka/Sports Press)
Vaccination obligation lifted in Australia
But since then, the vaccination requirement has been lifted in Australia and the Serb has obtained his visa. His ban on entering the territory was lifted at the same time, in November. “In the past, I’ve always had the chance to start my years in Australia very strong and I like to play here”, said Djokovic. In the event of a tenth Australian Open title, he will equal the record for the number of Grand Slam titles currently held by Spaniard Rafael Nadal, with 22 major trophies.