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Djokovic does not forget about being expelled but is ready to continue in Australia


Novak Djokovic of Serbia departs after practice before the Adelaide International and Australian Open tournaments, at Memorial Drive Tennis Club in Adelaide, Australia, December 29, 2022.

Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic departs after a practice session ahead of the Adelaide International and Australian Open tournaments, at Memorial Drive Tennis Club in Adelaide, Australia, December 29, 2022. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

ADELAIDE—Novak Djokovic will never forget the feeling of being expelled from Australia earlier this year but the Serb says his willingness to return to next month’s Grand Slam at Melbourne Park shows deep affection the color he has for his country.

Djokovic is expelled on the eve of the 2022 Australian Open in January for not being vaccinated against COVID-19 and receiving a three-year travel ban from the country.

However, the former world number one’s visa ban was waived in November, opening the way for Djokovic towards his goal of winning his 10th Australian Open and giving him the opportunity to level 22 titles. Rafa Nadal’s Grand Slam.

“You can’t forget those events, it’s one of the things that stick with you,” Djokovic said in his first press conference since returning to Australia.

“It will stay with you for the rest of your life. It was something I had never experienced before and hope to never experience again, but it was a valuable life experience for me.

“But I have to go ahead and come back to Australia to talk about how I feel about this country and how I feel about playing here.”

Novak Djokovic of Serbia practices ahead of the Adelaide International and Australian Open tournaments, at Memorial Drive Tennis Club in Adelaide, Australia, December 29, 2022.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia practices ahead of the Adelaide International and Australian Open tournaments, at Memorial Drive Tennis Club in Adelaide, Australia, December 29, 2022. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

Djokovic will warm up to the Australian Open by competing at the Adelaide International starting January 1 and he hopes to receive a warm reception from local fans.

“It’s a great place and the people in Adelaide, in general in Australia, love tennis, love sport and it’s a sporting country, so hopefully we’ll get a lot of people watching and we have You can have a good time,” said Djokovic.

“I hope everything goes well. Obviously, that’s not something I could have predicted. I will try my best to play a good tennis and bring good emotions to the audience.”

Djokovic said his overall experience in Australia has been unaffected 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. Those circumstances won’t replace what I’ve lived in Melbourne and Australia for all my career,” Djokovic said.

“So I come in with positive emotions and I’m really looking forward to playing there. It’s my favorite Grand Slam, the results prove it.”

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