20-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic played his first Tennis match in Australia in almost 2 years when he set out on the court for a doubles game at the Adelaide International on Monday (January 2, 2023).
Although it wasn’t a winning return to the country for Djokovic who had partnered Canada’s Vasek Pospisil and the Serbian-Canadian duo lost to the doubles specialist Tomislav Brkic and Gonzalo Escobar 4-6, 6-3, 10/5, it was one of those moments where even the losing pair received a warm applause from the crowd.
Here is the video:
— ATP Tour (@atptour) January 2, 2023
Notably, Djokovic was deported from Australia before the 2022 Australian Open for his unvaccinated status against COVID-19. While he had initially been barred from re-entering the country for three years, the ban was lifted in November which allowed the 35-year-old to return to Australia.
Djokovic gears up for first singles match of 2023
The former world number 1 will now attempt to add another Australian Open, his 10th, to his trophy cabinet. Before the Australian Open, this was the Serb’s first match Down Under on this trip. The fixture was staged at a packed outside court with fans in huge numbers cheering for the Serb.
Fans were even heard chanting “Novak, Novak” as he walked out to the court. In addition, there were a lot of Serbia fans at the venue and it was clear who was the fan favourite on the day. Djokovic too didn’t disappoint fans and stayed back at the court for autographs and selfies with fans.
Djokovic will now play his first singles match of 2023 against France’s Constant Lestienne in the same tournament before the marquee Australian Open which is set to commence on January 16. Rafael Nadal is the defending champion in the men’s singles category, having won it in 2022 when Djokovic wasn’t allowed to participate.