0

Novak Djokovic is all smiles in Adelaide after returning to Australia

Share
Novak Djokovic is all smiles in Adelaide after returning to Australia

Good to be back, Novak? Djokovic was all smiles in Adelaide after returning to Australia for the first time since his deportation earlier this year

  • Novak Djokovic was all smiles as he was pictured in Adelaide on Wednesday
  • The 35-year-old returned to Australia for the first time since his deportation
  • Djokovic is targeting his 10th Australian Open title and is playing in Adelaide
  • Tennis chief Craig Tilley hopes the country will welcome him with open arms

Novak Djokovic was in a buoyant mood as the tennis superstar was pictured in Australia for the first time since his deportation earlier this year.

The 35-year-old arrived in Adelaide last night, where he will open his 2023 campaign as he prepares for a shot at a 10th Australian Open title in Melbourne.

He had hoped to reach double figures in 2022, but was deported from Australia over his vaccination status and subsequently hit with a three-year ban from the country. Rafael Nadal won the tournament.

Novak Djokovic is all smiles as he is pictured in Australia for the first time

Novak Djokovic is all smiles as he is pictured in Australia for the first time

The 35-year-old superstar is preparing in Adelaide ahead of this year's Australian Open

The 35-year-old superstar is preparing in Adelaide ahead of this year’s Australian Open

Djokovic was deported from Australia earlier this year because of his vaccination status

Djokovic was deported from Australia earlier this year because of his vaccination status

However, his three-year ban from the country was lifted by the government

However, his three-year ban from the country was lifted by the government

Related:  NFL Awards: Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Hurts, Josh Allen, Joe Burrow and Justin Jefferson up for MVP

However, the 21-time major winner has been granted a visa by the Australian government and is listed to play in the Adelaide International, which starts on Sunday.

And on Wednesday, Djokovic took to the court with his team and was all smiles during a relaxed session. He was pictured laughing with a trainer in the net before putting him through his paces.

‘Novak is welcome in Australia,’ said Australian Open tournament director Craig Tilley. ‘I think as we speak he has arrived in Adelaide and he will be the player to beat (at the Australian Open) again.’

The Australian Open runs from January 16-29 in Melbourne.

Djokovic missed last year’s Grand Slam because of his refusal to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Australia has since lifted strict rules for unvaccinated travellers.

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles confirmed last month that Djokovic, who faces a possible three-year ban after being deported, had been granted a visa.

However, the Australian government lifted the three-year ban against the Serb

However, the Australian government lifted the three-year ban against the Serb

Djokovic arrived on court on Wednesday afternoon and was all smiles in Adelaide

Djokovic arrived on court on Wednesday afternoon and was all smiles in Adelaide

Djokovic has won the Australian Open a record nine times, including the last three times he played. Rafael Nadal won the title in 2022 without Djokovic.

‘Over the years I’ve been really lucky to start really strong in Australia and I want to play there,’ Djokovic said in Dubai last week at an exhibition tournament. ‘After obviously what happened earlier this year, hopefully I’ll have a decent reception there and hopefully that will help me play good tennis.’

Related:  Shocking prices of merchandise at the Australian Open revealed - with water bottles going for $99

But questions remain about how Djokovic will be received by Australian fans. Tiley told reporters on Tuesday that he believes Djokovic will be accepted.

‘I have great confidence in the Australian public,’ Tiley said. ‘We are a well-educated sporting public, especially those who go to tennis. They love their tennis, they love to see greatness, they love to see great athleticism, great matches.

‘And I have a lot of confidence that the fans will react the way we hope they will react and have respect for that.’