Novak Djokovic makes winning singles return to Australia with first-round victory over Constant Lestienne at Adelaide Open
Novak Djokovic still has plenty of love for the country that deported him, saying he received the reception he wished for in his triumphant return to singles action in Australia.
Djokovic booked a spot in the second round of the Adelaide International 1 with a thumping 6-3 6-2 win over Frenchman Constant Lestienne on Tuesday.
It was his first singles match in Australia since being deported last January after he was found to not meet Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination requirements at the time.
The 21-time grand slam champion received a rousing reception when he stepped out on court on Tuesday, and he didn’t disappoint his adoring fans.
Djokovic’s power, court speed, and deft work at the net proved too much to handle for Lestienne, with the match lasting just 74 minutes.
The world number five, who lost his low-key doubles match on Monday, repeatedly touched his heart before signalling to the crowd and the sky upon winning his singles match.
He also kissed his hand and touched the court, later saying he was delighted to be back in the country where he’s won nine of his 21 grand slam trophies.
“I’m glad to be back in Australia,” Djokovic said in his post-match on-court interview.
“Thank you all for coming out today. Thank you for giving me the welcome that I could only wish for.
“Over the years, Australia has been the place where I’ve played my best tennis, without a doubt.
“If I have to pick one country where I’ve had the most success, which treated me in the best way in terms of tennis, it’s here, definitely.
Daniil Medvedev had to work hard before Lorenzo Sonego’s retirement put him through at the Adelaide International Day three will see the first Australian appearance of the summer for Novak Djokovic On Monday night, Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis began the defence of his Adelaide title with a win over Maxime Cressy
“Even the circumstances last year, it wasn’t easy for anybody. But I’m just happy to be here focusing on tennis, and enjoying my time with you guys.”
The result sets up a round of 16 clash with Frenchman Quentin Halys, who defeated Australian Jordan Thompson in straight sets on Monday.
Djokovic lost just five points on serve during the opening set, but did have to save a break point in the fifth game.
Earlier, Daniil Medvedev has got off to a winning start at the Adelaide International, but it was far from an easy match and ended early due to the retirement of Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego.
Medvedev was leading 7-6 (8/6), 2-1 when Sonego was forced to retire with an arm injury.
Sonego came out in aggressive mood, going for it on big groundstrokes, running passing shots and brave dropshots.
The 2021 US Open champion Medvedev appeared to be finding his feet in the first set, trying to wait out his opponent in the hope of errors.
After being taken to eight deuces before holding serve for 5-5, Medvedev went 0-40 down in the 12th game as Sonego continued to give him the run around.
The Russian saved all three set points, before going on to force a tie-break at 6-6.
The breaker went on serve until the 13th point, where the Italian was serving at 6-6. Medvedev made a rare attack, coming to the net and finishing a fierce backhand volley to snare the mini-break.
Serving for the set, his second serve looked very close to going long, but was called in. Medvedev won the point before unleashing a big downward fist pump in celebration or relief taking the first set in 80 minutes.
Sonego was frustrated, after hitting 21 winners to just 10 for Medvedev in th“What a match to start the year,” Medvedev told Channel Nine on court afterwards.e first set.
The Italian didn’t let the frustration get to him — he came out and broke Medvedev in the opening game of the second set, but the number three seed then grabbed the break back immediately, before holding for 2-1.
Suddenly, three points into the fourth game, Sonego was forced to retire with an arm injury.
“Unfortunate for everybody that it finished early, even if we played one hour forty, but I’m happy to be through … I wish Lorenzo a speedy recovery.”