Last year’s Australian Open winner, Rafael Nadal, was delighted that Novak Djokovic would be back for the first Grand Slam of the 2023 season in Melbourne (January 16-29). Last January, the Serbian, nine times winner of the Australian Open, was expelled from Australia because of his vaccination status.
Rafael Nadal was delighted Wednesday to find his rival Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open, deprived of tournament in 2022, considering this return “good for tennis”. Last year, Rafael Nadal won this Grand Slam tournament after a final in five sets against Daniil Medvedev, while Novak Djokovic was banned from Australia because of a political and legal imbroglio related to his vaccination status. Australia has since lifted the requirement for visitors to show proof of vaccination against Covid-19 and allowed the Serb to return. He landed on Tuesday.
“Novak is here, it’s good for tennis, good probably for the fans,” said in Sydney Rafael Nadal, 22 Grand Slam titles and happy to be back with his rival, who has one less. The Spaniard, who recently became a father, will begin his preparation for the Australian Open with the United Cup, a mixed tournament organized from Thursday in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.
After a mixed second half of the 2022 season due to a serious abdominal tear that had deprived him of a semifinal at Wimbledon, Rafael Nadal said he was looking forward to facing the world’s 14th-ranked player Cameron Norrie, then Nick Kyrgios. “The last few months have not been easy for me. My main goal now is to get back to feeling good on the court, to be competitive. I hope to be,” said the Spaniard, who won his 14th French Open in June.
The 36-year-old took the opportunity to dismiss rumors that this would be his last appearance at the Melbourne Grand Slam. “I don’t think this is my last time here. I’m happy doing what I’m doing. I’d like to keep doing it,” insisted the Spaniard, who hopes to start strong to build confidence. But at 36, “you never know when it will be the last time,” conceded the world No. 2, a two-time Australian Open winner whose first appearance dates back to 2004.
As for Novak Djokovic, nine times champion in Melbourne and in search of a 10th title, he will start his Australian tour with the tournament in Adelaide. Currently ranked fifth in the ATP rankings, the 35-year-old Serb is the favorite in Melbourne after winning five titles in 2022, including Wimbledon.
Leave a Reply