This time, he landed in Australia without fanfare.
Almost on the sly.
On Tuesday, Novak Djokovic landed in Adelaide, where he will attack his 2023 campaign next week. Far from the din of a year ago and his incredible arrival at Melbourne airport, followed by detention and then an expulsion before the Australian Open for non-compliance with the vaccination rules in force.
Almost twelve months later, the former world No. 1 is still not vaccinated against Covid-19, but the government has changed, the laws have been relaxed and the ban on territory for three years which had been pronounced in his opposition was lifted last November.
On Wednesday, the Serb was able to tread the Memorial Drive training court for a little scrubbing.
Novak Djokovic's first training in Australia since being deported nearly 12 months ago.
The former world #1 looking in good spirits - preparing to open his 2023 campaign in the Adelaide International - before hunting a 10th Australian Open title.@9NewsAdel @wwos pic.twitter.com/uVuhUSAg3c
— Emma Henderson (@EmmaHendo9) December 28, 2022
“Over the years, I've been lucky enough to start very strong in Australia and I love playing there.
Obviously, after what happened earlier in the year, I hope to receive a decent reception and that can help me play good tennis, ”explained the nine-time local Grand Slam winner before taking off for the 'southern hemisphere.
“The Covid was a fairly difficult period for everyone and last year did not go as they wished, slips Alistair MacDonald, the director of the tournament in which Felix Auger-Aliassime, Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev also participate. .
But 2023 is a fresh start.
It's probably not for us to judge how he will be received, but he's a great player and he's definitely going to spark interest in the event…”
Towards a 10th coronation in Melbourne?
Time has (a little) passed and mentalities have (already) evolved.
In January 2022, according to a poll by Resolve Political Monitor, 71% of those polled did not want to see Djokovic put the rackets back on the continent in 2023. They were down to 41% at the start of December (and 29% to lose interest in his fate ).
“It is the consequence of the new reality of people being allowed to enter the country without being vaccinated, explains Jim Reed, director of Resolve, in the Sunday Morning Herald.
We are no longer in the same context.
Ready for the summer of tennis 🌞@DjokerNole has arrived in Adelaide and kicked off his first practice session.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) December 28, 2022
Craig Tiley, boss of the Australian Open (January 16 to 29), welcomed the current No. 5 in the ATP rankings.
“I think once again that he will be the player to beat,” slipped the Australian leader.
A tenth coronation would allow Djokovic to join Rafael Nadal's 22 Grand Slams.
Last winter, the Spaniard "took advantage" of the absence of the Belgrader to win one of the most breathtaking titles of his career by overthrowing Medvedev in the final.
The Majorcan, who is preparing for him by competing in the United Cup (new mixed event by nation between Sydney, Brisbane and Perth), is delighted with the return of his greatest rival.
“Novak is there, it's good for tennis, he breathes, probably good for the fans.