As he travelled back to Australia in advance of the Australian Open next month, Novak Djokovic acknowledged that he is finding it difficult to get over the way his deportation from Australia made him feel.
A year after the scandal that engulfed the sports world and resulted in Djokovic receiving a three-year entry ban, he will play at Melbourne Park.
The famously unvaccinated Serbian for Covid-19 was found to have violated entry requirements when he arrived in Australia at the beginning of this year. He was held in a detention facility before being ultimately deported.
Following the lifting of his entry ban into Australia last month, he is now free to compete at Melbourne Park where he is attempting to match Rafael Nadal’s record haul of 22 Grand Slam victories.
What did Novak Djokovic say?
While Djokovic has expressed his love for Australia, he acknowledges that his experience has left him with a bad taste in his mouth.
“You can’t forget those events, it’s one of those things that stick with you,” he said. “It stays with you for the rest of your life. It’s something I’ve never experienced before and hopefully never again, but it is a valuable life experience for me.
“But I have to move on and coming back to Australia speaks about how I feel about this country and how I feel about playing here.
“What happened 12 months ago was not easy to digest for some time but at the same time, I had to move on. Those circumstances will not replace what I have lived in Melbourne and in Australia throughout my entire career.
“So I come with positive emotions and I really look forward to playing there. It’s been my favourite Grand Slam, the results prove that.”
Djokovic expects warm reception from the audience
Beginning on January 1, Djokovic will compete in the Adelaide International, where he hopes to be well-received by the locals as he starts his preparations for the Australian Open.
“It’s a great place and the people in Adelaide, and generally in Australia, love tennis, love sports and it’s a sporting nation so hopefully we’re going to have a lot of people watching and we can have a good time,” he added.
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