Novak Djokovic says he had the “best possible experience” coming back with a victory in the Dubai Tennis Championships in his first match since his participation in the vaccination and visa saga in preparation for the Australian Open.
But on his return to the court, he beat Italian Lorenzo Mossetti 6-3, 6-3.
“An enjoyable experience,” he said.
Thanking the fans after his first game in 2022, Djokovic added: “I couldn’t have chosen a better place to start the season – it was the best experience possible tonight.
“All in all, it’s a winning streak so of course I have to be satisfied, especially after not playing for two and a half, or almost three months.”
Top seed Djokovic has saved all seven break points he served against Mussetti – ranked 58th in the world – and will face either Russia’s Karen Khachanov or Australia’s Alex de Minaur in the second round.
He beat his chest in a show of emotion after testing moments in the win, but when asked if it would draw more from him or his team, he told Amazon Prime: “I’m going to pass on that question.
“It’s always in the heat of battle, the atmosphere where you need to get that energy out. Sometimes you get frustrated with yourself, your game, the things that’s going on.”
He later said he received a “very friendly” welcome into the competition by “the majority” of the players.
He added: “I am very grateful for that because having at least some kind of understanding, I would say, if not the support from my teammates and teammates, is very important to me because they are the people I can see sometimes more than my family.
“I care a lot about the relationships we have.”
Djokovic Last week he told BBC News he would prefer to miss out on future tennis titles than being forced to get the Covid vaccine.
His interview came after extensive coverage of his deportation and Document checking His legal team in court used to say he was medically exempt from needing a vaccine to enter Australia.
Asked about his image amid the controversies he said, “I really don’t know. Of course, there haven’t been many positive articles about this whole situation in the past month or so.
“I think things might change a little bit – I hope so – but I understand there is still a lot of speculation and people wondering.”
“It’s not great for tennis.” – Murray
Serbia’s Djokovic – a five-time tournament winner in Dubai – could lose the world number one place he held for 86 consecutive weeks to Russia’s Daniil Medvedev, depending on his performance in separate tournaments this week.
He is able to appear in Dubai because the Covid-19 vaccine is not a requirement to enter the UAE.
He’s also in to play in Indian Wells as of March 7 – a tournament restricted to immune players – but said he won’t be able to play unless the rules change.
The 34-year-old’s decision to refuse vaccination may limit his chance of capitalizing on 20 Grand Slam wins – one win behind record holder Rafael Nadal.
He currently holds the Wimbledon and French Open titles. But his participation in Roland Garros in May is currently in doubt, with French Sports Minister Roxana Marasinho saying on Sunday that under the current rules he would “need a vaccination permit and therefore will not be with us”.
next one win on Monday, And Britain’s Andy Murray said it would be “easier” for Djokovic if he got the vaccine.
“But I also didn’t like seeing him in the situation he was in Australia as someone I respect and have known since I was a kid,” Murray said.
“There are consequences to the decisions he just made – he obviously has to accept that. But I don’t think it’s great for tennis if our best player isn’t competing in the big events.”
Djokovic says it shouldn’t be associated with the anti-purge movement, but he does support one’s right to choose.