Fans welcome Djokovic at first event in Australia since 2022 deportation saga

AP - Kelly Barnes

Tennis star Novak Djokovic received a warm welcome on Monday from spectators at the Adelaide International tournament less than a year after he was deported from Australia for falling foul of the country's anti-coronavirus rules.

The 35-year-old Serb, who has spoken candidly about his reluctance to have jabs against the deadly disease, played a doubles match with the Canadian Vasek Pospisil.

The pair lost in a third set super tiebreaker to Tomislav Brkic and Gonzalo Escobar.

In the prelude to one of the warm-up events for the Australian Open, there were concerns that the former world number one would be jeered for not getting a vaccination against coronavirus and for trying to enter a country that had undergone a series of strict quarantines.

However, several fans waved banners in support of a player attempting to win a record-extending 10th title at the Australian Open which begins on 16 January.

Since the cancellation of Djokovic's visa in January 2022, all Covid-related border restrictions have been removed in Australia, including the requirement to provide evidence of vaccination status to enter the country.

Djokovic begins his singles campaign in Adelaide on Tuesday against the 30-year-old French journeyman Constant Lestienne.

Better wins

On Monday at the tournament, there were several shocks.

Popyrin, 23, who had come through the qualifying tournament, hailed the victory as one of the high points of his time on the circuit.

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