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Novak Djokovic returns to court, tennis, first time since Australia deportation

Mohammad Bilal
Mohammad BilalFeb 22, 2022 | 18:22

Novak Djokovic returns to court, tennis, first time since Australia deportation

Novak Djokovic returned to tennis court for the first time since his Australian deportation in January 2022. The Serb player got a roaring reception from the crowd.

The crowd cheered as Serb player and world number one tennis player Novak Djokovic made his way to the Dubai tennis court on Monday, February 21. Novak hit the court for the first time since his deportation from Australia on January 16, 2022. Entering UAE no longer requires a Covid vaccination certificate. Novak could easily play in the Dubai Tennis Championship because of this.

Djokovic might have held the racquet after an almost two-month gap, but the Serb player easily saw off Russia's Lorenzo Musetti 6-3 6-3 in his first match. He has won the Dubai tournament five times. His next match could be with Russia's Karen Khachanov or Australia's Alex de Minaur.

A WARM WELCOME

After the game, Novak said that the players who he met welcomed him warmly and were positive. But that was not the case in Australia. “It was a little bit strange there,” he said.

A lot of that had to do with his detention by the Australian authorities on January 6, 2022. Novak’s anti-vaccine stance had drawn negative publicity for him. The players were reluctant to align with him back then.

WILL HE ABLE TO PLAY THE FRENCH OPEN?

rts5or8t_022222050020.jpgNovak Djokovic. Photo: Getty Images

Djokovic currently holds the Wimbledon and French Open titles. But his reluctance to go for the jab might cost him his participation at the Roland Garros, also known as the French Open in May this year.

France’s Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu on Sunday said that entering France requires a Covid certificate and since Djojovic doesn’t have one, he will not be playing in the tournament. She said, “Under current rules, he will need vaccination pass and therefore will not be with us.

Not only this, Novak will also miss the Indian Wells Masters tournament in United States of America (USA) that starts on March 7, 2022. Since he is not vaccinated, he cannot enter US. “As of today, I can’t go. I can’t enter US. But, let’s see what happens. I mean ,maybe things change in the next few weeks,” Djokovic said.

A PRICE DJOKOVIC WILLED TO PAY

1_647_022222050200.jpgNovak Djokovic. Photo: Getty Images

Djokovic in an interview with BBC’s Amol Rajan last week had said that though he does not want to be associated with the anti-vax movement, he also stands for the right to choose what one injects in the body. On being asked about missing tournaments in future because of this stance, he said, “Yes, that is the price I am willing to pay.”

Novak didn’t mince his words when he said that he is even willing to sacrifice his number one spot in tennis to his counterparts Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

This was also the first time Novak spoke after his deportation from Australia. Novak had said that he was sad and disappointed over all that happened in Australia. He also made it clear that he was not deported because of being unvaccinated, or because of his visa error, but only on Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke's perception that his presence could boost anti-vaccine sentiments in Australia.

Novak was deported from Australia on January 16, 2022; a day before the Australian Open tournament kicked off in Melbourne. In his absence, Rafael Nadal won his 21st Grand Slam title in Melbourne.

Last updated: February 22, 2022 | 18:27
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