World No 1 Novak Djokovic finally returns to court at the Dubai Duty Free Championships in his first match for over two months after being deported before the Australian Open due to being unvaccinated
- Novak Djokovic faces Italian wildcard Lorenzo Musetti in Dubai on Monday
- It is his first official match since December 3 after his Australian Open departure
- The World No 1 player was deported by Australia due to being unvaccinated
Novak Djokovic has finally made his return to tennis since missing the Australian Open after being deported over his unvaccinated status for Covid-19.
The 34-year-old took to the court in the Dubai Duty Free Championships on Monday against Italy wildcard Lorenzo Musetti – his first match since his Davis Cup win over Marin Cilic on December 3.
Djokovic was kicked out of Australia earlier this year before the tournament where he was defending champion began.
He arrived in the country to uproar after revealing he had a medical exemption to compete unvaccinated – which later emerged to be due to his claims he contracted the virus late last year.
He was in enforced hotel quarantine when Australia’s border force cancelled his visa and he went to court trying to overturn their decision.
Speaking ahead of his match with Musetti, Djokovic struck a pensive tone and accepted that there will be many tournaments where he won’t be allowed to play while he is unvaccinated.
Novak Djokovic (left) has finally made his return to tennis since missing the Australian Open
‘I will have to follow the rules,’ he said.
‘Whatever tournament I’m able to play I will be trying to get to the country and play the tournament.’
Covid restrictions mean the US and much of Europe will not allow unvaccinated players like him to play in their events.
‘I really can’t choose right now, it’s about where I can go and play,’ he added.
‘I’m not intending to play a full schedule but also that wasn’t my intention prior to this season.’
World No 1 Djokovic said he will play in any tournament that allows him to this year
The Serb has caused controversy in recent weeks following his refusal to get vaccinated
Djokovic (above) will not be able to compete in the US or in Europe under current guidelines
Djokovic said he had been back practising since the beginning of February, having retreated to Belgrade after being thrown out of Australia.
Since arriving in Dubai, he insisted that he had so far received a better reception in the locker room than in Melbourne.
‘Most of the players have been welcoming,’ said the 34-year-old.
‘I can’t say that was the case in Australia, it was a little bit strange.’
Djokovic could lose the world No 1 spot by the end of the week, and definitely will if Daniil Medvedev wins the concurrent tournament in Mexico.
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