ITALIAN tennis player Novak Djokovic made a successful return to the tour for the first time since his deportation from Australia, kicking off his 2022 campaign with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Italian teenager Lorenzo Musetti in Dubai on Monday.
The Serbian world No.1 was greeted by loud cheers from a packed Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium as he commenced his quest for a sixth title in the Emirates in style.
“I couldn’t ask for a better reception. It’s been a while since I played the last match, I couldn’t pick a better place to kick-start the season,” said Djokovic.
“Best possible experience tonight, thanks very much for your support and welcoming me on court the way you did,” added Djokovic on court as ‘Nole, Nole’ chants rang throughout the arena.
“All in all it’s a straight-sets win. I have to be satisfied with my tennis, especially after not playing for almost three months.”
The 34-year-old’s hopes of winning a 10th Australian Open, and 21st Grand Slam, in Melbourne last month were shattered when he had his visa cancelled and was deported for not being vaccinated against Covid-19.
Djokovic can play in Dubai as a coronavirus vaccine is not a requirement to enter the United Arab Emirates.
Djokovic’s win over 19-year-old Musetti was his first competitive match since the Davis Cup Finals in Madrid last December.
It was a rematch of their Roland Garros fourth round from last spring, where Musetti led Djokovic by two-sets-to-love before retiring in the decider.