Novak Djokovic stunned by his warm welcome upon returning to the Australian Open
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Novak Djokovic was welcomed back to the Australian Open with, well, open arms.
12 months after he was booted out of the country following his Covid-19 vaccine saga, Djokovic returned to the Australian Open, greeted to the court with a standing ovation from the crowd.
Visibly stunned by the reception, Djokovic just sat back in his chair and smiled as he took it all in.
Last year, the Serbian tennis star made headlines around the globe when he was barred from entering Australia to compete in the prestigious tournament.
Despite being adamant he had been granted a vaccine exemption, Djokovic was placed in a detention centre in Melbourne before eventually being deported from the country.
The entire ordeal gripped the tennis world with fans and pundits alike all having their say on the matter as neither 'Djoker' himself nor the Australian government came out of it looking particularly favourable.
Such an amazing welcome thank you 🏼❤️ https://t.co/NxuCFwDLyq— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) January 17, 2023
One year on and the nine-time Australian Open champion has returned to Rod Laver Arena, receiving a huge round of applause as he stepped foot on the court – despite his match against Roberto Carballes Baena being delayed until 10pm.
At one point, chants of 'Novak, Novak, Novak' could be heard echoing around the arena.
Djokovic went on to win the match 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 and fans even stuck around until well past 12:30am to hear his on-court interview.
When the microphone was passed to him, he was hit with yet more cheers.
"Unbelievable atmosphere, thank you for staying late everybody. And thank you for giving me such a welcoming reception, which I can only dream of," Djokovic said post-match.
"I am very happy to be back in Australia and back here on the court, where I've had the biggest success in my career. This court is the most special court in my life.
"Thank you for your support, I appreciate it."
However, it wasn't all good news for Djokovic upon his return Down Under as he admitted a niggling hamstring injury had been plaguing him.
"I was kind of testing my leg a little bit. At the beginning I was a bit tight, mentally as well, to protect something that was bothering me last 10 days," he added.
"So it took me a little bit of time to really get into the match and start moving more freely. The great sign was that the longer the match went, the better I felt, the better I moved.
"The leg is good. It's not ideal, but it's getting there. Today was a really good test."