ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) — Novak Djokovic reiterated his earlier comments that he has no hard feelings about his return to Australia after his visa cancellation and subsequent deportation in January ahead of the Australian Open tennis tournament.
Djokovic was deported nearly 12 months ago after arriving without being vaccinated against covid at a time when the country was still subject to strict quarantine and proof of vaccination rules.
Those regulations have since been lifted, and in November, the Australian government lifted the three-year ban that came with Djokovic’s deportation and granted him a visa to return to the Australian Open from January 16.
Djokovic returned to Australia on Tuesday ahead of the Adelaide International, where he is scheduled to play next week.
“It’s great to be back in Australia,” he said Thursday. “It is a country where I have had tremendous success in my career, particularly in Melbourne. It is by far my most successful Grand Slam. I hope everything will be positive. Obviously (fan reaction) is not something I can predict.
“I will do my best to play good tennis and bring good emotions and good feelings to the crowd.”
Djokovic said he still has a hard time getting over his deportation.
“Obviously what happened 12 months ago was not easy for me, for my family, for my team, for anyone who is close to me. It is obviously disappointing to leave the country like this,” she said.
“You can’t forget those events. It’s one of those things that stay with you, I suppose, for the rest of your life. It’s something I’ve never experienced before and I hope never again. But it is a valuable life experience for me and something that, as I said, will stay there, but I have to move on.
Djokovic has won the Australian Open nine times, including the last three times he has played. Rafael Nadal won the 2022 title in Djokovic’s absence.