A modest percentage of Australians support Novak Djokovic’s return next month

Novak Djokovic press conference Credit: Alamy

Novak Djokovic has been granted permission to enter Australia for the first Grand Slam event of 2023, but it appears many locals won’t be ready to welcome him back to Melbourne.

Djokovic was expelled from Australia last January after confusion over his attempts to enter the country despite his refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

While the defending champion was initially advised he would be allowed to enter Australia with a medical exception, authorities later reversed that decision and plunged the Serbian star into a political storm.

It ended when he was removed from Australia, and that decision appeared to block his return to the country for the next three years, which is standard procedure for anyone deported from the country.

However, the decision was made last month to lift Djokovic’s ban and allow him to enter Australia next month by the nation’s Immigration Minister Andrew Giles.

Now a Sydney Morning Herald poll has suggested just 30% of Australians agree with the decision to allow Djokovic to return to Australia.

The poll also suggested 41% believe they should not be allowed to stay and play at the Australian Open, down from 71% in January.

Numbers confirm there is less opposition to Djokovic playing Melbourne Park than in early 2022, numbers in this poll suggest memories of the deportation saga have left a lasting scar on his reputation.

This may be more significant with non-tennis fans, who were the most vocal in their opposition to Djokovic’s arrival in the country without a vaccine.

With most of the world treating Covid very differently to early 2022, former British No1 Annabel Croft told Tennis365 the time has come for Djokovic to be able to play in all of next year’s events .

He missed all of the North American hard-court events and the US Open due to his stance on the Covid vaccine, but Croft believes the door should now be open for Djokovic to have a full schedule from this point forward.

“I think it’s scary what happened and how it turned out (for Djokovic),” he told us.

“I just think the whole thing is a mess. With everything going on with the points and the Russian players, it sure looks like there’s a lot to sort out. One of the most tumultuous years we’ve had in tennis.”

Djokovic has spoken of his relief after being allowed to return to Australia, as he aims for big success in the new year.

“It was obviously a relief to know what me and the people closest to me in my life have been through this year with what happened in Australia and obviously after Australia,” he said of the decision to grant him a travel visa .

“I couldn’t get better news for sure. The Australian Open was my most successful Grand Slam. I made some of the best memories there.

“Sure, I want to go back there, I want to play tennis, do what I do best, hopefully have a great Australian summer.

“When it comes to goals and ambitions, for me they are always the tops.

“At this stage of my career, I have to be less humble and modest when I talk about goals.

“Throughout my career I have been very lucky to win the biggest trophies in our sport, so I feel that by winning Turin and winning the best tournaments in the world I am still allowing myself to dream big.

“The big goals are Grand Slam events and Masters 1000 events when I get the chance to play.

“Even playing for my country gives me incredible emotions.

“The bigger focus is on trying to stay healthy and perform at the highest level because I don’t see myself playing professional tennis and not being one of the candidates to win a Grand Slam or be one of the top sports in the world.”

The article A modest percentage of Australians support Novak Djokovic’s return next month first appeared on Tennis365.com.

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