Novak Djokovic says players ‘welcome’ his return to Dubai

Novak Djokovic says he received a “positive” reception from the players in the locker room and is “excited” to return to the pitch for his first game of the season at the ATP tournament in Dubai on Monday. The world number one missed last month’s Australian Open due to having his visa canceled and being expelled from Australia for failing to be vaccinated. He returns to the circuit this week in the Emirates, where he will compete for the first time since the Davis Cup final in Madrid last December.

Ahead of his first round against Italian joker Lorenzo Musetti, Djokovic spoke to reporters on Sunday night about what it’s like to be back on the tennis circuit and whether there has been any negative reaction from his peers to the following his return.

“So far here most of the players I’ve seen – I haven’t seen too many players – but most of the players I’ve seen have been positive and welcoming. It’s nice to see obviously . I can’t say that was the case in Australia. It was a bit strange. But here it’s going so far,” the 34-year-old Serb said.

Djokovic returned to training 10 days after returning from Australia and admits he needed time to recover mentally from an emotional few weeks which saw him being detained by the Australian Border Force in Melbourne and finally seeing his visa canceled twice before being sent home. .

The 20-time Major champion said what happened in Australia made him “sad” and “disappointed”, but he quickly felt motivated to return to the tennis court.

“I’ve been playing tennis for two and a half weeks, three weeks. I like it. I like the game, I just like hitting the tennis ball, so it wasn’t really difficult for me to pick up a racket and go to the training ground and just play,” said Djokovic, who is aiming for a sixth title in Dubai this week.

“Knowing that I was coming to Dubai, I had something to work for, I had a goal. So now that I’m here, I can say that I’m as prepared as I can be and I’m excited to, again , be on tour.”

In an interview with the BBC, Djokovic said he was ready to give up the chance to play in any tournament, including the Grand Slams, if any of those events had a vaccination mandate.

“Follow the rules”

He is aware that he may not have many opportunities to play as an unvaccinated individual, which means planning his schedule in advance will become increasingly difficult in the future. .

“I just have to follow the rules. Whatever tournament I can play in, I will try to go to that country and play the tournament,” he said.

“I really can’t choose at the moment. It’s really about where I can go and play. Wherever I have an opportunity, I’ll probably use that opportunity and go play because that’s what I do, that’s what I still like to do.”

Djokovic, who was eclipsed by Rafael Nadal on the men’s all-time list of most Grand Slams won, thanks to the Spaniard’s Australian Open last month, could drop his number one ranking on 28 February to benefit Daniil Medvedev, who plays in Acapulco this week. .

The Serb, who begins his record 361st week at the top of the table on Monday, is ignoring any scenarios that could lead to his dismissal and is instead focused on winning all of his games in Dubai.

“He deserves to be number one,” Djokovic said of Russia’s world number two Medvedev.

Promoted

“Eventually, it will happen. If it happens this week, I’ll be the first to congratulate him.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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