Novak Djokovic receives huge ovation from Melbourne crowd on his Australian Open return as fans get behind the Serbian following his deportation nightmare last year – after being warned they’d be KICKED OUT if they booed the superstar
- Novak Djokovic received a rousing ovation ahead of his first round match
- The Serb was controversially deported from Australia in January last year
- Djokovic was unvaccinated against Covid and twice had his visa cancelled
- Tennis Australia CEO warned fans could be evicted for booing Djokovic
- Click here for all your latest international sports news at Daily Mail Australia
Any fears the Australian public may give Novak Djokovic the cold shoulder were emphatically dismissed as the Serb received a hero’s welcome at Melbourne Park on Tuesday.
Making his return to the Australian Open following his controversial deportation last year, the 21-time Grand Slam winner walked on the court to a roaring ovation ahead of his first round match against Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena.
Djokovic was at the centre of a diplomatic storm in January last year, when he had his visa cancelled twice after arriving in Australia ahead of the Australian Open.
Novak Djokovic received a rousing reception ahead of his first round match at the Australian Open on Tuesday night against Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena
The nine-time Australian Open champion, who was unvaccinated against Covid-19, was initially allowed into the country before ultimately being deported following a polarising legal tussle.
Djokovic still insists he was harshly treated: ‘All of a sudden, I became the villain of the world, which was obviously a terrible position to be in as an athlete,’ he told Channel Nine ahead on the eve of the Australian Open.
‘I came in with all the valid papers [last year]. I really hope the crowd will be receiving me well. That’s something I cannot predict.
‘Obviously I wish for a positive reception but it’s in their hands. I don’t hold any grudges.
‘I am definitely not against people of Australia. I think me being here proves how much I really want to be here and how much I want to play.’
But after winning the Adelaide International last week, Djokovic thanked the Adelaide crowd for their support since his return to Australia.
‘The support that I’ve been getting in the past 10 days is something that I don’t think I’ve experienced too many times in my life,’ he said.
There was also no sign of animosity towards the 35-year-old during his exhibition match against Nick Kyrgios in Melbourne on Friday, exactly as Tennis Australia chief executive officer Craig Tiley had hope.
The nine-time Australian Open champion had expressed hope of receiving a warm welcome following his controversial deportation from Australia last year
There were plenty of Serbian flags in the crowd as Djokovic to the court on Tuesday
Djokovic received a warm welcome when he faced Nick Kyrgios in an exhibition match at the Rod Laver Arena on Friday
‘That’s what I love about Australia,’ Tiley said last week.
‘I love that our fans, our sporting fans, are amongst the most educated in the world.
‘They appreciate greatness, they appreciate players that like Novak have won this event nine times.
‘I’m excited by the fact that we’ve got all the players here. Novak is back, he’d be able to compete in front of the fans.’
Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley warned fans faced ejection from the Australian Open courts if they booed Djokovic too loudly
Tiley also issued an ultimatum to the fans, warning them they faced ejection from the Australian Open courts if they booed Djokovic too loudly.
‘If they disrupt the enjoyment of anyone else – boom, they are out. We don’t want them on site.
‘They can stay away or we will kick them out,’ he told the Herald Sun.
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