World No 5 Novak Djokovic makes a return to Melbourne Park after a year. He makes his comeback after the removal of his visa ban by the federal government. He will be aiming for his record 10th title in Australia. With a few days left to the start of 2023, former Australian legend Todd Woodbridge picked him as one of the favorites.
He faced a major setback when he was deported on the eve of his match at Down Under in 2022. His deportation led to a three-year visa ban which was due to his unvaccinated status to Covid-19. His firm stance of neither taking the vaccine nor having any intention to do so forced him to skip tournaments. The Serb skipped two Grand Slam tournaments which resulted in his rankings. Moreover, his vaccination debate was one of the most discussed topics around the world.
The former doubles champion revealed that Djokovic has a fair chance to win the tournament. Woodbridge stated that he would be aiming for a title win, keeping aside all his challenges of last year. The 21-time Grand Slam champion would not leave any chance to equal the record of Grand Slams with Rafael Nadal as confessed by the former tennis player. The 16-time doubles Grand Slam champion made a huge claim stating that the Serb has not lost his form despite missing matches.
“The good news is that he will play in Adelaide, so he will be in Australia weeks before the first Grand Slam of the season starts. That will give you time to wash away all the stress and tension from the past year. There will be pressure from the media, but he has handled it very well. He returns to a country where he loves to play. Djokovic has won the Australian Open nine times. He will really want to win,” said Todd Woodbridge during an interview with Telegraph.
Continuing his train of thoughts, the former doubles No 1 said “Since he was not allowed to play here last year, that will also be an added motivation. He will also have it in his mind when he tries to reach the record of Grand Slams that Rafa won when he could not be there. He has the quality to be number one even now, and maybe he would have been if he had played all season. It was his decision not to do it, but he has not lost his form or quality.”
Novak Djokovic hopes to receive a warm welcome in Australia
The Serb is one of the greatest players of all time. He has inspired millions in the past two decades with his hard work, grit, determination, and agility. His list of accolades and achievements needs no introduction. Despite missing the US Open, he ended up playing in four consecutive finals on the Tour. He won three titles out of the four finals and the loss came at the Paris Masters against Holger Rune.
Djokovic won four ATP singles titles in the year. He became the fifth player to win 90 or more ATP singles titles in The Open Era. The 7-time Wimbledon champion ended the year by winning the ATP Finals title for the sixth time. He was the undefeated champion and took away hefty prize money.
The 35-year-old is optimistic that he would be able to continue his dominance in Australia and would receive a warm welcome. Djokovic was the champion consecutively between 2019-2021. He admitted to being fortunate enough to be able to play for all these years in Australia. The 21-Grand Slam winner named the Australian Open as his most successful Grand Slam.
Prateek Pradhan is a tennis writer at FirstSportz. He is currently pursuing Journalism and Mass Communication from KIIT University, Bhubaneswar. He is very passionate about sports and a huge fan of Rafael Nadal. Other than tennis, he also follows football and cricket.
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