Djokovic feels love in stunning opening win

MELBOURNE — Novak Djokovic received a thunderous applause in his first match at the Australian Open after last year’s deportation drama…a title bid.

Djokovic, who returned to Melbourne Park where the prolific Serb was denied a title defense in 2022 after returning home amid public outrage for not being vaccinated for COVID-19, said fans were calling his name. saved three early break points to win the first set.

“I felt very welcome on the court. Especially here in Australia the large Serb community has made me feel incredibly welcome. So much support. Lots of love. ‘,” Djokovic told reporters.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the tournament in terms of support, feeling on the court and playing.”

A hamstring strain he picked up en route to the Adelaide title had weighed heavily on his left thigh, but the 35-year-old was enjoying his time in front of the crowd at Rod Laver Arena, a second lead. When I doubled the , there was almost no problem.

Djokovic hit the ball brilliantly throughout, highlighting his qualification as the favorite to win the title. This left him wrestling Carvarez and Baena in a one-sided third set, while submission saw him level with holder Rafa Nadal in 22 majors.

Novak Djokovic
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates his first-round win against Spain’s Roberto Carvarez Baena during the Australian Open tennis match at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia on January 18, 2023. (Carl Recine/Reuters)

Djokovic, who could claim a title in Melbourne would take him from Carlos Alcaraz to No. 1 in the world rankings, said he wasn’t too focused on that and the big numbers he could achieve at the first Grand Slam of the year.

“It’s important to try to get as close as possible to a balance between using possibility and outcome as a motivating factor and a goal-setting type of motivation.

“But at the same time, it has to be accomplished in the right way to balance it with your daily tasks and, in my case at least, stay in the present moment where you can do your best.

“I’ve played for really big historic stuff before and have been blessed with more successes than failures in those particular situations. I know how to behave, I handle it I know how to do it. Let’s see how far we can go.”

Watched by his parents and brother who proved to be lucky charms in the stands when Djokovic won his first Grand Slam tournament in 2008, the No. 4 seed also went unbeaten in 35 games on Australian soil. I participated in

“We are really happy to have them here…The last time they were here was only in 2008. About the time they spent here together 15 years ago, we had some great I have memories,” he said.

“I hope they stay until the end. I can stay with them and have another great celebration.”

By Shrivathsa Sridhar