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Australian Open: Novak Djokovic receives heat welcome on Melbourne return

SYDNEY: Novak Djokovic acquired an adoring welcome on his first public return to the Australian Open for a apply match with dwelling favorite Nick Kyrgios. The 35-year-old Serb was deported earlier than final 12 months’s match after a row about his Covid-19 vaccination standing that divided public opinion.

“I’m very completely happy. Thanks a lot,” mentioned Djokovic after strolling on to Rod Laver Enviornment to a rapturous reception. “I really feel a bit emotional. I used to be wanting ahead to coming again to this courtroom.”

Djokovic returned to Australia final week and acquired a heat welcome when he performed in Adelaide, the place he received the ATP 250 occasion. However there was fascination relating to how he can be acquired again in Melbourne, which endured among the hardest coronavirus lockdowns on the planet.

In a metropolis with an enormous Serb inhabitants, a whole bunch wore the Balkan nation’s colors as Djokovic stepped on the market for the primary time since 2020. Earlier this week, Australian Open match director Craig Tiley requested followers to be respectful, warning they’d be kicked out of Melbourne Park in the event that they booed Djokovic.

The previous world primary’s title was greeted with loud cheers when it was learn out – drowning out a few boos – earlier than he entered the courtroom. Solely a deafening roar might be heard as he walked on to the courtroom, the place the nine-time champion has loved a few of his largest successes.
Djokovic, going for a record-extending tenth title and record-equalling twenty second males’s main, has been managing a hamstring damage however mentioned earlier than the exhibition he was “feeling good”. He and Kyrgios shared two units, which had been the first-to-four factors, and which supplied little perception into their Australian Open preparations.

The pair had been joined on courtroom by wheelchair gamers David Wagner and Heath Davidson, after which two junior gamers, in a deciding tie-break which Crew Kyrgios received. “It feels nice to be again in Australia and again in Melbourne. It’s the courtroom the place I created the most effective recollections of my tennis profession,” mentioned Djokovic, who performs his first-round match in opposition to Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena on Tuesday.

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