Australian Open: Novak Djokovic chases the dream of 22 Grand Slams

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The first Slam of the year promises to be an interesting one, with the men’s draw in disarray and many contenders for the women’s crown

JUST IN :Novak Djokovic makes winning singles return to Australia with first-round victory over

Novak Djokovic will be aiming to win his 22nd major singles title and 10th Australian Open.
A year ago, Novak Djokovic’s very public claim that he was heading to the 2022 Australian Open, despite being unvaccinated against Covid-19, on the basis of a medical exemption, was the first domino to fall. The drama that ensued on his arrival in Australia cast him as a villain worldwide and a poster-boy for anti-vaxxers. What was essentially a tussle between his personal, arguably selfish beliefs, and the Australian government, ended in the Serb being deported from the country on the eve of the Grand Slam. Though Djokovic is used to being a lightning rod for controversies, he saw it as a “humiliation on the global stage”.
Novak Djokovic
The Serbian, and most of the tennis world, is banking on that sting to fuel his run at this year’s Australian Open, which begins on Monday, 16 January. “You can’t forget those events, it’s one of those things that stick with you,” Djokovic said on his return to Australia earlier this month. “It stays with you for the rest of your life. It’s something I’ve never experienced before and hopefully never again, but it is a valuable life experience for me.”

With Australia overturning his visa ban, Djokovic was allowed to play in the country once again. Though he made a more low-profile entry into Australia this time around, he was given a raucous reception in his first match at the Adelaide International. Having marketed the event around his comeback, the tournament drew a record crowd, with fans queueing up from seven in the morning to catch a glimpse of the 21-time Grand Slam champion. He walked out for his opening match, a doubles contest, to a full house, ringing with chants of “Novak! Novak!”.

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