Novak Djokovic was welcomed to Melbourne upon his return from Australia after being in custody. He was also banned from entering Australia because of his vaccination status.
The tennis star was deported because he hadn’t received his COVID jabs.
He was unable to compete in the Australian Open which he won nine times. A three-year ban order also prevented him from returning.
However, the controversial decision was reversed in November. This allowed , the 21-time Grand Slam singles champion, to make a dramatic return in the new year.
He will compete in the 2023 major tennis event. On Friday, he played an exhibition match against Nick Kyrgios, a maverick tennis player.
The Serbian described his return to Rod Laver Arena as “it just feels great to be back, back in Australia,”
“This is where I made the most memorable memories of my professional tennis career.
“It was 2008, the first time I won a Grand Slam. It was here.
“I’m back, 15 years later, and I’m still competing at the highest level.
“I must say that I am very grateful for the opportunity to be here. So thank you guys for your warm welcome tonight.”
Djokovic was clearly emotional as he left court in front 15,000 spectators.
He acknowledged that he wasn’t sure how he would be treated in his new country, which had imposed some the most severe border restrictions during the pandemic.
Although he has not yet had his COVID jabs at 35, the rules have been relaxed so he doesn’t need them.
Friday’s exhibition match against Kyrgios (Australia’s highest-ranked player) was more of a game and fun than any serious competition before the Grand Slam’s start date.
Both were friendly with the crowd and didn’t seem to be bothered by recent injuries.
They could be reunited as early as the fourth round of the open. Kyrgios will seek revenge for the defeat by Djokovic last summer.
Kyrgios will face Roman Safiullin during the first round of Melbourne’s tournament, while Roberto Carballes Baena is played by Djokovic.
Raducanu is ready to take action
In the women’s singles, Emma Raducanu, from Britain, has declared herself fit for play. She is looking to rebound after a difficult 2022 plagued by fitness issues.
After injuring her ankle last week at a tournament held in New Zealand, she was doubtful for the major.
She said, “I feel really good and I’m looking forward to getting on the court.”
“It’s just an enormous, huge props for my team, here and back home who have helped me get to this point.”