Novak Djokovic will never forget what it was like to be kicked out of Australia earlier this year, but the Serb says his willingness to return for next month’s Grand Slam at Melbourne Park shows the depth of his feelings for the country.
Djokovic was expelled on the eve of the 2022 Australian Open in January for not being vaccinated against COVID-19 and received a three-year travel ban for the country.
However, the former world number one’s visa ban was lifted in November, paving the way for Djokovic to aim for a 10th Australian Open crown and giving him a chance to equal Rafa Nadal’s mark. of 22 Grand Slam titles.
“You can’t forget those events, it’s one of those things that sticks with you,” Djokovic said in his first press conference since returning to Australia.
“He stays with you for the rest of your life. It’s something I’ve never experienced before and hopefully never again, but it’s a valuable life experience for me.
“But I have to move on and come back to Australia is about how I feel about this country and how I feel about playing here.”
Djokovic will warm up for the Australian Open playing at the Adelaide International from January 1 and he is hoping for a warm welcome from the local fans.
“It’s a great place and the people of Adelaide, and generally Australia, love tennis, love sports and it’s a sporting nation, so hopefully a lot of people will watch us and we can get through. a good time,” Djokovic said. .
“I hope everything is going to be positive. Obviously it’s not something I can predict. I will do my best to play good tennis and bring good emotions and feelings to the crowd.
Djokovic said his overall experience in Australia was not marred by what happened in January.
“What happened 12 months ago was not easy to digest for a while but at the same time I had to move on. These circumstances will not replace what I experienced in Melbourne and Australia throughout my career,” Djokovic said.
“So I come with positive emotions and I’m really looking forward to playing there. It’s my favorite Grand Slam, the results prove it.