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Novak Djokovic receives warm welcome on first return to Australia since being deported a year ago

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Novak Djokovic receives warm welcome on first return to Australia since being deported a year ago

Novak Djokovic received a warm welcome on his return to Australia a year after being deported from the country for refusing to take a Covid vaccine… with the Serbian playing doubles with friend Vasek Pospisil in warm-up event.

  • Novak Djokovic received a warm welcome on his return to Australia on Monday
  • The Serbian was deported for refusing to get vaccinated a year ago
  • Djokovic returned to action as he played doubles in Adelaide in a warm-up event
  • Fans chanted his name and he followed it up with a long autograph session

From deportation to admiration, Novak Djokovic received the welcome he expected when he returned to the court in Australia on Monday.

The nine-time Australian Open champion returned to action when he played doubles in Adelaide in a warm-up event for the first Grand Slam of the season.

And he will be heartened by the welcome as he appears in court alongside Canadian best friend Vasek Pospisil, facing Tomislav Brkic and Gonzalo Escobar. It’s certainly calmer than 12 months ago, when he was locked up in a detention hostel before being kicked out of the country for visa violations related to not being vaccinated against Covid.

Novak Djokovic got the welcome he was hoping for when he returned to the court in Australia

Novak Djokovic got the welcome he was hoping for when he returned to the court in Australia

The 35-year-old Serb continues to stand firm against having the jab, but has had his three-year ban from entering Australia overturned. It seems all is forgiven and forgotten and he will consider that more important than the 4-6, 6-3, 10-5 loss.

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There were even chants of ‘Novak, Novak’ as he entered the court and then he stayed for a long autograph session.

On Tuesday morning he is set to face Frenchman Constant Lestienne in the singles, with Britain’s Andy Murray and Kyle Edmund also in action.

At the same venue, Jack Draper got his season off to a good start as he defeated Korea’s Kwon Soon-woo 6-2, 6-1. Emma Raducanu is another Brit to play on Monday night when she takes on extraordinary Czech 17-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova in Auckland.

The Serbian played doubles with good friend Canadian Vasek Pospisil on Monday

The Serbian played doubles with good friend Canadian Vasek Pospisil on Monday

Rafael Nadal suffered his second straight defeat of the new campaign against Alexis di Minaur

Rafael Nadal suffered his second straight defeat of the new campaign against Alexis di Minaur

The early season events take place alongside the new United Cup mixed team tournament, which sees Great Britain face the United States in what is effectively a quarter-final in Sydney on Wednesday.

After strong wins against Spain and Australia, the team, led by Tim Henman, Great Britain will face a formidable American outfit led by Taylor Fritz and Jessica Pegula.

Rafael Nadal, the defending Australian Open champion, suffered his second straight defeat of the new campaign while representing Spain.

Following his opening group match loss to Britain’s Cam Norrie, he was defeated 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 by Australia’s Alex de Minaur.

Nadal is relaxed, saying: ‘I have two weeks before the Open starts. I can’t say the situation is perfect, but I can’t say it’s very negative.’

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