Novak Djokovic makes his eagerly anticipated return to the Australian Open on Tuesday.
The Serb, one of the finest men’s tennis players of all time, was deported on the eve of last year’s Grand Slam at Melbourne Park because of his stance on Covid vaccines.
But the 35-year-old will be back when he faces Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain in his opener and looks likely to be given a warm reception by the Rod Laver Arena crowd.
He is bidding to win the Australian Open for a record-extending 10th time and in doing so tie defending champion Rafael Nadal’s men’s all-time record of 22 Grand Slam crowns.
Djokovic is hot favourite for the first Grand Slam of the year, but after winning an Adelaide warm-up tournament last week, he has been bothered by a slight hamstring injury.
He was pictured practising on Monday with heavy strapping around his left thigh.
“I always like my chances. I train as hard as really anybody out there,” Djokovic said ahead of his opener, attempting to dispel concerns about his hamstring.
“There’s a lot of youngsters now that are very hungry, that want to win. They want to take a scalp off you on the big stadium. I know that.
“But experience of being in these kind of particular circumstances helps I think to have the right approach and do things in a proper way.”
Djokovic will wrap up the day’s play on Rod Laver Arena against the 75th-ranked Carballes Baena.