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Novak Djokovic handed warm welcome by fans on return in Adelaide

Novak Djokovic handed warm welcome by fans on return in Adelaide
Novak Djokovic made a losing return to Australia but received an enthusiastic welcome from fans at the Adelaide International
Novak Djokovic handed warm welcome by fans on return in Adelaide
  • Supporters flock to tournament to watch doubles defeat
  • Djokovic begins his singles campaign on Tuesday
Novak Djokovic has no shortage of supporters in Adelaide.

Novak Djokovic made a losing return to Australia but received an enthusiastic welcome from fans at the Adelaide International.

Twelve months after he was deported as a risk to public health because of his refusal to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, Djokovic has returned to the country following the decision to overturn his visa ban.

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His first match was a low-key doubles encounter alongside close friend Vasek Pospisil, which the pair lost 4-6, 6-3 (10-5) to Bosnia’s Tomislav Brkic and Ecuador’s Gonzalo Escobar.

But any fears Djokovic may have had about how he would be received by the public were swiftly allayed as his supporters flocked to Memorial Drive to welcome him back.

Djokovic begins his singles campaign on Tuesday against Constant Lestienne of France as he builds up to the Australian Open, where he is looking for a record-extending 10th title.

There were two shocks in singles action on Monday, with the second seed Felix Auger-Aliassime losing 6-4, 7-6 (5) to Australian Alexei Popyrin while the fifth seed Holger Rune was beaten 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 by Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka.

Jack Draper, one of three British men in the draw along with Andy Murray and Kyle Edmund, made a strong start to his season with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Kwon Soon-woo of South Korea.

Murray plays the talented American Sebastian Korda on Tuesday while Edmund, finally fit again after a two-year battle with knee trouble, faces the sixth seed Jannik Sinner.

In Auckland, Venus Williams won her first WTA Tour match for nearly two years with victory over Katie Volynets in the first round of the ASB Classic. The 42-year-old, who first won a main tour match in 1994, opted against following younger sister Serena into retirement and made a winning start to 2023 by seeing off fellow American Volynets 7-6 (4), 6-2.

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