Novak Djokovic said Tuesday the reception he had received in Australia was more than he could wish for and the good vibes would reflect in his tennis as he targets a 22nd Grand Slam title this month. The Serbian star, who will bid for a 10th crown at the Australian Open, is back in the country a year after being kicked out for refusing to be vaccinated against Covid-19. He was barred from returning for three years, but the government has since lifted the ban and Djokovic made a winning return at the Adelaide International, beating Frenchman Constant Lestienne 6-3, 6-2.
The 35-year-old was given a warm welcome when he played a losing doubles clash on Monday and received similar treatment on a packed centre court.
“It’s great to be back. To see the packed house for my first match was definitely a very pleasant surprise. Lots of support, lots of love,” he said at a press conference.
“That obviously motivated me and allowed me to express myself in the best possible way on the court with my game.”
“A lot of Serbia flags, I know the Serbian community here in Adelaide is big but I didn’t think so many would come and I thank them very much.”
Last year’s Australian Open was overshadowed by Djokovic being put on a plane on the eve of the contest after a high-stakes legal battle over his visa status.
It left a bitter taste, but he held “no grudges” and had moved on.
“It was different coming to Australia this year than any other year basically because of the events of 12 months ago,” he said.
“But at the same time, 12 months is also a long time ago, already it is behind me, I’ve moved on and looking forward.
“There’s no reason to focus on … what you focus on is what you become, if you focus on the negatives that is what you’ll become, so I don’t want to do that.
“I don’t hold a grudge, I’m here to play tennis, to enjoy sports and spread good energy.”
He added: “From day one, people have been very kind and generous with me. Overall, a great experience so far.”
Djokovic was also happy with the way he played so early in the season, which bodes well for his Australian Open campaign at Melbourne Park from January 16.
“Obviously the first match after a longer break is tricky, you don’t know how you’re going to start,” he said.
“I’m glad I could do everything well, I was concentrated, I was composed from the first to the last point.”
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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