After Furore Australia, Djokovic began his season in Dubai | Tennis News


DUBAI: Novak Djokovic’s season, which was derailed in January when he was kicked out of Australia, finally begins in Dubai on Monday, with the world number one insisting the players in the locker room “have been positive and welcoming” on his return.
Djokovic missed the chance to win a 10th Australian Open and a 21st Grand Slam, due to the cancellation of his visa in Melbourne and possible deportation for not being vaccinated.
He returns to the circuit this week in the Emirates, where he will compete for the first time since the Davis Cup final in Madrid last December.
Ahead of his first round against Italian joker Lorenzo Musetti, Djokovic spoke to reporters on Sunday night about what it’s like to be back on the tennis circuit and whether there has been any backlash from his peers.
“So far here most of the players I’ve seen have been positive and welcoming. It’s nice to see obviously. I can’t say that was the case in Australia. It was a bit strange But here it’s been fine so far,” the 34-year-old Serb said.
Rafael Nadal, who in Djokovic’s absence won the Australian Open, offered support from a distance.
“Vaccinated or not, let Novak play again,” Nadal said at a press conference ahead of the Mexican Open in Acapulco, where he and world number two Daniil Medvedev play.
The victory in Melbourne was Nadal’s 21st in a major tournament, putting him a distance from Djokovic and Roger Federer on the all-time list. Nadal says the Serbian’s absence distorts records.
“It will affect his history, whether he can play or not, it will affect himself, the Grand Slam tournaments, I don’t know what,” Nadal said, although he added that “we are talking about small things. in a world that has suffered in every way”.
Djokovic can play in Dubai as a coronavirus vaccine is not mandatory to enter the UAE.
The Serb is a five-time winner in Dubai and finally begins his season with a point to prove and his number one spot threatened.
Even if he wins in Dubai, Djokovic could lose the top spot, which he has held since February 2020, to Medvedev.
If Djokovic defends his status this week, his refusal to get vaccinated could land him in trouble and cost him ranking points, especially with two Masters tournaments looming in the United States.
He is on the Indian Wells entry list from March 7-20, although that is currently restricted to vaccinated players. Next is the Miami Open from March 21 to April 3.
“I just have to follow the rules. Whatever tournament I can play in, I will try to go to that country and play the tournament,” Djokovic said on Sunday.
“I really can’t choose at the moment. It’s really about where I can go and play. Wherever I have an opportunity, I’ll probably use that opportunity and go play because that’s what I do, that’s what I still like to do.”
There are still three Grand Slam tournaments to be played this year: the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.
Each has potential significance as Djokovic battles Nadal for the record.
In Mexico, Nadal refused to question whether he, Djokovic or Federer could claim to be the greatest of all time.
“It’s not for me to talk about because I’m an involved party,” Nadal said, adding that all three “achieved more than we would have dreamed of.”
“There could be arguments of different kinds that could give that title that you so love of ‘the best in history’ to anybody,” he said. “It’s a matter of individual taste.”
Djokovic is the defending champion at Roland Garros and the All England Club.
“We all hope that the health crisis will evolve in a positive direction, but if this does not change, he will need a vaccination card and therefore Novak Djokovic will not be with us (in Paris)”, declared the French minister. Sports Roxana Maracineanu at RTL. radio on Sunday.

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