Novak Djokovic received a standing ovation as he walked onto court for an exhibition match against Nick Kyrgios ahead of the Australian Open.
It was Djokovic's first on court appearance in Melbourne since beating Daniil Medvedev to claim a ninth Australian Open title in February 2021, having been unable to defend his crown last year due to a row over his Covid vaccination status.
The Serb received a warm welcome in Adelaide last week, where he won an ATP 250 event, but there were fears over what the reaction may be in Melbourne with tennis chiefs concerned he may get booed.
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Speaking ahead of his match against Wimbledon finalist Kyrgios, Australian Open boss Craig Tiley warned fans they could be kicked out for booing or heckling Djokovic. "If they disrupt the enjoyment of anyone else – boom, they are out," Tiley told The Herald Sun.
"We don't want them on site. They can stay away or we will kick them out. We have spoken a fair bit over the past week and he really enjoyed his experience in South Australia.
"Our sporting fans are among the most educated in the world. They appreciate greatness. I'm pretty confident that the fans of Melbourne, similar to the experience that he had in Adelaide, will be just as good."
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And Djokovic received big cheers as he entered the Rod Laver Arena. "I'm very happy," Djokovic said of the reception the fans gave him.
"Thank you so much. I feel a bit emotional. I was really looking forward to coming back to this court.
"It feels great to be back in Australia and back in Melbourne. It is the court where I created the best memories of my tennis career."
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