Novak Djokovic was “a bit emotional” after receiving a heat welcome Friday on his return to Melbourne Park, earlier than dealing with Nick Kyrgios in a sell-out Australian Open exhibition match. All 15,000 seats at Rod Laver Area offered 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 event final week and it was the same story at Rod Laver Area, the place he’s a nine-time champion.
“Thanks a lot, really feel a bit emotional proper now to be sincere,” the previous world primary from Serbia instructed the group after his entrance on court docket was met by cheers and applause.
“I used to be actually trying ahead to coming again to this court docket, so thanks all you guys for popping out tonight for an ideal trigger,” mentioned the 35-year-old, among the best 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 event 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 problem which noticed him curtail a apply match in opposition to Daniil Medvedev this week.
However he appeared to haven’t any hassle along with his motion in opposition to Kyrgios and mentioned beforehand that he was “feeling good”. Kyrgios additionally allayed issues about an ankle harm which has hampered his preparations.
They every gained 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 grew to become one of many few gamers to return out publicly and help Djokovic as he unsuccessfully fought deportation in January 2022.
They met within the Wimbledon remaining final 12 months, with Djokovic successful 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 is nice to be again in Melbourne, to be again in Australia,” Djokovic mentioned.
“That is the court docket and the stadium the place I created the perfect recollections of my skilled profession.”
(This story has not been edited by NDTV workers and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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