Novak Djokovic Arrives In Adelaide Ahead Of Next Month’s Australian Open

Twelve months after being deported from Australia due to his decision not to get vaccinated against Covid-19, Novak Djokovic is back Down Under ahead of the start of next month’s Australian Open.

Djokovic, who is one Grand Slam title behind Rafael Nadal’s record of 22, will play the Adelaide International beginning Sunday, and then the Australian Open starting Jan. 16 in Melbourne.

The nine-time Australian Open champion had an automatic three-year visa ban overturned in November.

“I think that he is going to be again the player to beat,” said Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley.

Last month, the 35-year-old Serb won his record-tying sixth ATP Finals title in Turin, Italy, defeating Casper Ruud 7-5, 6-3.

The Serb lost in the quarterfinals of the French Open to his rival Nadal but did win his fourth straight Wimbledon title for his 21st career major title.

He was not allowed to play the U.S. Open — or Indian Wells or Miami — because unvaccinated foreigners were not permitted to fly into the country.

During a weird year in which he missed long stretches due to his vaccination status, he won Rome, Tel Aviv and Astana.

Tiley said he did not expect a backlash to Djokovic’s return.

“We welcome him back to Australia.

“I have a great deal of confidence in the Australian public. I have a lot of confidence that the fans will react how we hope they will react.”

Djokovic, now ranked No. 5 in the world, said in November he was looking forward to returning to Melbourne.

“[The] Australian Open has been my most successful Grand Slam,” he added. “I made some of the best memories there.

“Of course, I want to go back there, I want to play tennis, do what I do best, hopefully have a great Australian summer.”