Not even being deported could dissuade Novak Djokovic from another tilt at the Australian Open, the Serbian has revealed.
Despite the well-documented vaccination saga that precluded him from contesting last year’s tournament, Djokovic says he has no hard feelings for anyone who criticised him.
The former world No.1 faced intense media scrutiny throughout the ordeal and admitted he wasn’t sure how he’d be received by the public upon his return.
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A year later, he walked out onto Rod Laver Arena to a rapturous reception in a charity match alongside Australia’s own Nick Kyrgios.
On Saturday, Djokovic faced the media where he detailed the emotions of the night.
“I was very emotional, honestly, coming into the court because, as I said on the on-court interview, with the reception that I received, I didn’t know how that’s going to go like after events of last year,” he explained.
“I’m very grateful for the kind of energy and reception, love and support I got last night.”
Djokovic said any hard feelings were “in the past” and that he couldn’t hold a grudge against anyone.
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Asked how he was able to move on from the saga, the 35-year-old said he couldn’t let it tar his fond memories of Australia.
“Well, you have to,” he explained.
“I mean, in a way, if I do hold the grudges, probably if I’m not able to move on, I wouldn’t be here.
“Also I have to say that the amount of positive experiences I had in Australia overwhelm the negative experience maybe of last year.
“My impression of Australia, my vision of Australia, has always been very positive, and that has reflected on my performance. My results are a testament to how you feel here.
“I was really looking forward to come back and play tennis because that’s ultimately what I do best, what I always wanted to do, what I wanted to do last year.
“I’m really looking forward to play in front of the people and hopefully bring them some good fun and good vibes.”
Djokovic will face Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain in his first-round match on Tuesday.
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