Novak Djokovic will never forget being deported from Australia but is ready to move on

Former world No 1 returns to the country to begin his 2023 season in Adelaide, less than 12 months after getting deported

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Novak Djokovic said the experience of being deported from Australia will remain with him for the rest of his life, but insisted he is ready to move on and focus on preparing for the Australian Open.

Djokovic, 35, was deported on the eve of the 2022 Australian Open in January for not being vaccinated against Covid-19 and received a three-year travel ban for the country.

However, the former world No 1's visa ban was waived in November following Australia's easing of Covid-entry restrictions, whereby visitors no longer need to provide proof of vaccination.

Djokovic returned to Australia on Tuesday and has since been training ahead of starting his new season at the Adelaide International, as he takes aim at a record-extending 10th Australian Open title and a chance to tie Rafael Nadal's mark of 22 Grand Slams.

"You can't forget those events, it's one of those things that stick with you," said Djokovic in his first news conference since returning to Australia.

"It stays with you for the rest of your life. It's something I've never experienced before and hopefully never again, but it is a valuable life experience for me.

"But I have to move on and coming back to Australia speaks about how I feel about this country and how I feel about playing here."

The saga surrounding Djokovic in January appeared to split opinion, with many Melbourne locals appearing on the streets to protest his presence in the city, while many others turned out in support of the Serb.

On his return Down Under, Djokovic is hoping for a warm reception from local fans.

"It's a great place and the people in Adelaide, and generally in Australia, love tennis, love sports and it's a sporting nation so hopefully we're going to have a lot of people watching and we can have a good time," Djokovic said.

"I'm hoping everything is going to be positive. Obviously, it's not something that I can predict. I'll do my best to play some good tennis and bring good emotions and good feelings to the crowd."

Djokovic said his overall experience in Australia had not been soured by what happened in January.

"What happened 12 months ago was not easy to digest for some time but at the same time I had to move on. Those circumstances will not replace what I have lived in Melbourne and in Australia throughout my entire career," Djokovic said.

"So I come with positive emotions and I really look forward to playing there. It's been my favourite Grand Slam, the results prove that."

Updated: December 29, 2022, 9:51 AM