Ahead of the 2023 Australian Open, Novak Djokovic says he can’t forget getting deported from the country before the last edition.
Djokovic was deported just before the 2022 Australian Open due to being unvaccinated against COVID-19, and was handed a three-year ban from the country.
Following global easing of COVID restrictions, Australia rescinded his ban and gave him a visa for him to arrive and play in the country.
Djokovic arrived in Australia on Tuesday ahead of the Adelaide International, where he is scheduled to play next week.
“It’s great to be back in Australia,” Djokovic said Thursday. “It’s a country where I’ve had tremendous success in my career, particularly in Melbourne. It’s by far my most successful Grand Slam. I’m hoping that everything is going to be positive. Obviously [fan reaction] is not something that I can predict.
“I’ll do my best to play good tennis and bring good emotions and good feelings to the crowd.”
Djokovic said he still has difficulty forgetting his deportation.
“Obviously what happened 12 months ago was not easy for me, for my family, team, anybody who is close to me,” he said. “It’s obviously disappointing to leave the country like that.
“You can’t forget those events. It’s one of these things that stays with you for, I guess, the rest of your life. It’s something that I’ve never experienced before and hopefully never again. But it is a valuable life experience for me and something that as I said will stay there, but I have to move on.”
Djokovic has won the Australian Open a record nine times, including the past three times he played. Rafael Nadal won the 2022 title in Djokovic’s absence.