Thursday, March 30, 2023

Djokovic ‘a bit emotional’ after heat return to Australian Open in charity match in opposition to Nick Kyrgios

Novak Djokovic was “a bit emotional” after receiving a heat welcome Friday on his return to Melbourne Park, earlier than going through Nick Kyrgios in a sell-out Australian Open exhibition match.

All 15,000 seats at Rod Laver Enviornment bought out in 58 minutes, with proceeds going to charity, forward of the primary Grand Slam of the 12 months on Monday.

Djokovic, who was deported a 12 months in the past, was given a very good reception when he went on to win an Adelaide warm-up match final week and it was an analogous story at Rod Laver Enviornment, the place he’s a nine-time champion.

“Thank you so much, feel a bit emotional right now to be honest,” the previous world primary from Serbia advised the group after his entrance on court docket was met by cheers and applause.

“I was really looking forward to coming back to this court, so thank you all you guys for coming out tonight for a great cause,” mentioned the 35-year-old, top-of-the-line males’s tennis gamers of all time.

Djokovic has dominated the Australian Open since his maiden triumph in 2008 however he had his visa cancelled 12 months in the past and was deported on the eve of the match due to his stance on Covid vaccines.

In a light-hearted encounter in opposition to Australia’s Kyrgios, Djokovic wore tape for a left hamstring subject which noticed him curtail a follow match in opposition to Daniil Medvedev this week.

However he appeared to don’t have any hassle together with his motion in opposition to Kyrgios and mentioned beforehand that he was “feeling good”. Kyrgios additionally allayed issues about an ankle damage which has hampered his preparations.

They every received one shortened set earlier than concluding the pleasant knockabout with a tiebreak that additionally included wheelchair gamers David Wagner and Heath Davidson.

Djokovic and temperamental showman Kyrgios used to have a frosty relationship.

However that has thawed significantly after Kyrgios turned one of many few gamers to come back out publicly and help Djokovic as he unsuccessfully fought deportation in January 2022.

They met within the Wimbledon ultimate final 12 months, with Djokovic profitable in 4 units for his twenty first Grand Slam.

He’s sizzling favorite to win the Melbourne title as soon as once more when he begins his marketing campaign in opposition to Seventy fifth-ranked Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena.

“It’s great to be back in Melbourne, to be back in Australia,” Djokovic mentioned.

“This is the court and the stadium where I created the best memories of my professional career.”

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