Novak Djokovic insists he holds NO grudges against Australia despite his deportation saga last year as the Serb returned to winning ways in Adelaide
- Novak Djokovic insists he holds no grudge against Australia on his return
- The Serb, 35, was deported last year after refusing to have a Covid vaccine
- He received a warm welcome on his return to Adelaide on Tuesday
- Djokovic is targeting his tenth Australian Open title in Melbourne this month
Novak Djokovic says he holds no grudges about his deportation from Australia last year, insisting he still has a lot of love for Australia after receiving a warm welcome in Adelaide on Tuesday.
Djokovic booked a place in the second round of the Adelaide International 1 with an emphatic 6-3 6-2 win over Frenchman Constant Lestienne on Tuesday.
It was her first singles match in Australia since being deported in January for refusing to have a COVID-19 vaccine.
Novak Djokovic insists he holds no grudge over his deportation saga last year
The 21-time grand slam champion received a standing ovation when he stepped out onto the court on Tuesday, and he did not disappoint his adoring fans.
Djokovic’s strength, court speed and deft work at the net proved too much for Lestienne, whose match lasted just 74 minutes.
The world No.5, who lost her low-key doubles match on Monday, repeatedly touched her heart before waving to the crowd and the sky after winning her singles match.
He also kissed her hand and held the court, later saying he was glad to be back in the country where he won nine of his 21 grand slam trophies.
The Serbian was kicked out of Australia last year because of his refusal to be vaccinated
Djokovic saw his three-year ban lifted and returned to Australia last month
‘Well look, I would say coming to Australia this year is different than other years, certainly because of the events of the last 12 months,’ said Djokovic.
‘But at the same time – 12 months is also quite a long time. It’s behind me, I’ve moved on, I’m looking forward to (what’s) coming because I’ve always played well and probably my best tennis in my whole career (was) on Australian soil.
‘I’m glad to be back in Australia. Thanks to everyone who came out today. Thank you for accepting my only wish.
‘Over the years, Australia has been the place where I’ve played my best tennis, without a doubt.
‘If I had to choose a country where I had the most success, that treated me the best way in terms of tennis, here, definitely.
He received a warm welcome in Adelaide as he prepared for the Australian Open
‘Even with the events of last year, it’s not easy for anyone. But I’m just happy to be here focusing on tennis, and enjoying my time with you guys.’
The result sets up a round of 16 clash with Frenchman Quentin Halys, who defeated Australian Jordan Thompson in straight sets on Monday.
Djokovic lost just five points on serve in the opening set, but had to save a break point in the fifth game.
The 35-year-old took the opening set in 38 minutes, and raced to a 4-0 lead in the second as Lestienne’s frustrations began to boil over.
The Frenchman dropped his racket on the court after losing the net battle against Djokovic, and his body language deteriorated as the match wore on.
‘For the first match, I can’t complain,’ said Djokovic.
‘I played very well. I thought the first six games were very competitive.
‘But once I made that break, I felt like I took it up a level or two and played really good tennis.