Novak Djokovic says his deportation from Australia helped him ‘achieve some great results’



CNN

Speaking at a news conference on Saturday ahead of the 2023 Australian Open, he said Novak Djokovic’s long absence from competitive tennis at the start of last year following his deportation from Australia had helped him “achieve some great results”.

Djokovic played only two tournaments in the first four months of 2022 due to his decision not to get vaccinated against Covid-19, which resulted in non-compliance with travel rules in some of the countries hosting the tournaments.

However, this compulsory vacation allowed him to spend more time training.

“As a professional tennis player at the highest level, you don’t have much time for the longest training period,” Djokovic told reporters. “We have a very long season… you have a few weeks here and there.

“The fact that I didn’t play for months at the beginning of last year really allowed me to get together with my team and work on my body, on my strokes, which later helped me get some great results.”

Later that year, Djokovic won his fourth consecutive Wimbledon title, as well as his sixth victory in the ATP Finals, and he started 2023 on a similar note with a win at the Adelaide International.

Djokovic is aiming to win his 10th Australian Open title in Melbourne and, more importantly, equal the men’s record for Grand Slam titles – currently set by Rafael Nadal at 22 – giving the 35-year-old extra motivation.

“That is why I continue to play professional tennis and tennis, because I want to be the best, and I want to win the biggest tournaments in the world,” he said.

“You have four Slams that have historically been the biggest events in our sport. It’s also one of the biggest reasons I’m really looking forward to coming back to Australia: because of my record here. I really like playing on Rod Laver Arena, especially the night sessions. I’ve had a lot of success I hope To continue this year.”

Although Djokovic injured his hamstring in the semi-finals of the Adelaide International last week and is therefore “a little more cautious”, he says it’s “hopefully not too much of a concern”.

“I am in very good shape,” he added. “I finished the year in the best way I could, and continued that form in Adelaide. I like the way you played there. I beat some good players, especially in the last games of the tournament.

“I like my chances. I always like my chances.”

Djokovic will begin his Australian Open campaign against unseeded Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena on January 17.

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