Novak Djokovic said on Thursday he remains cautiously optimistic that Australian crowds will forgive and forget as the one-year anniversary of his deportation from Melbourne approaches.
The anti-vaxx Serb who still refuses categorically to get jabbed for COVID, was turfed out of Australia last January when he tried to enter the country without being vaccinated.
He spent five days in immigration detention and went through two court dates – surely spending hundreds of thousands in legal fees – before being sent out of the country.
But the 35-year-old is hoping that 2023 will be a different story for fans.
“You can’t forget those events, it’s something that sticks with you, for I guess the rest of your life.
“What happened 12 months ago is not easy to digest,” the Serb said as he prepared to lead the field at the ATP Adelaide event beginning Sunday.
“But I had to move on. (Nothing) can replace what I’ve lived in Melbourne and in Australia throughout my entire career.”
The nine-time Australian Open winner added: “I come in with positive emotions, and I really look forward playing there. It’s been my favorite slam, and results are proving that.
“It’s obviously disappointing to leave the country like that (deportation).
“I was really hoping to have permission to get back into Australia and play here,” he said of the government decision this autumn to cut him slack and not enforce the normal three-year ban on a return to the country for deportees.