Novak Djokovic, the 9-time Australian Open winner, will be back at Melbourne Park fighting for his 10th title at the Grand Slam. The 21-time Grand Slam champion was the 3-time defending champion at this year’s edition but the vaccination debacle saw him deported and banned from entering the country for 3 years.
Djokovic had to leave the country on the eve of his first-round match of the title defense in Melbourne this year. After waiting for almost 11 months, he is finally cleared to re-enter Australia and compete at the 2023 Australian Open where he will look to match defending champion Rafael Nadal‘s tally of 22 Grand Slam titles.
As Tennis Australia starts preparations for hosting next year’s Australian Open from 16th January, Craig Tiley evaluated the Serb’s chance at winning this year. Tiley is the Chief of Tennis Australia and also the tournament director of the Grand Slam having the entire tournament’s responsibility on his shoulders.
“I think this could be the year. I’ve been around long enough to know that the Australian Open unearths and uncovers the greats of the future. If you look at [Djokovic’s] form – you can argue he’s the best player in the world.
“He’s an unbelievable tennis player and this is the place he’s won the most. He’ll be very hungry to not let the young guns on the men’s side take the title from him,” said Tiley in comments reported by Express UK. While Tiley has hoped for a young player to win the title next year, he is certainly not ruling Djokovic out of contention given the former World No. 1’s track record.
Craig Tiley expects a fair treatment of Novak Djokovic by fans in Melbourne Park next year
Djokovic’s case in Australia became a big issue in the world let alone in the country. While some factions of Australians were hoping Djokovic plays given he had the medical clearance from the government set-up committee, many others felt that with him being unvaccinated, he should not be allowed.
Even the decision to overturn the visa ban on Djokovic has not gone well with many. With a sense of hostility coming, Tiley believes his compatriots will be fair to Djokovic when he returns next year and expects them to be unbiased towards their most successful champion.
“Yes, there were many things that happened around it, but it was not to be unexpected because it was an environment none of us had ever experienced. When we look back – I think we did our best and … I can guarantee you that the same thing will happen today and the same thing will happen tomorrow. I have a great deal of confidence in the Australian sporting public and our crowds – we’re a very fair crowd.
“We celebrate success, and we reward that. Of course, we support the Aussies, and we want the Aussies to do well. What a great year we had with Ash [Barty] winning. I think the Australian public will enjoy coming to the Australian Open and I think they will welcome all players in a fair way,” added the Tennis Australia boss.