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Australian Open: Djokovic ‘slightly overwhelmed’ by Melbourne crowd’s reception

All 15,000 seats at the Rod Laver Arena sold out in 58 minutes, with proceeds going to charity.

Djokovic, who was kicked out of Australia a year ago because of his vaccination status, received a warm welcome from the Australian public when he won the Adelaide practice tournament last week, even winning at Rod Laver Arena on Friday. Nine Grand Slam titles.

“Thank you very much, I’m a bit emotional now to be honest,” the former Serbian world number one told the crowd before the exhibition, greeted by cheers and cheers after his entrance on court.

“I’ve been really looking forward to getting back on this court, so thank you all for coming out tonight for a great cause,” the 35-year-old added.

Djokovic has dominated the Australian Open since his first win in 2008, but his visa was revoked 12 months ago and he was kicked out the day before the 2022 edition began.

Djokovic, who faced Australian Kyrgios, wore strapping for a left hamstring problem that ruled him out of a practice match against Russian Daniil Medvedev this week.

But he didn’t appear to have any mobility problems and said he felt “good” before the game.

Kyrgios has dismissed concerns about an ankle injury that has hampered his preparation.

They each won an abbreviated set before the friendly ended with a tie-break against wheelchair players David Wagner and Heath Davidson.

Djokovic and the eccentric Kyrgios — the Australian public’s darling who received more applause than his opponent — had a frosty relationship.

It has been significantly heated since Kyrgios was one of the few players to publicly support Djokovic in his unsuccessful fight against the January 2022 deportation proceedings.

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The two players met in last year’s Wimbledon final, where Djokovic won in four sets to claim his 21st Grand Slam title.

In the first round of the Australian Open 2023, he will meet the favourite, “Nole” Spaniard Roberto Carballes Pena (75th in the world).

Source: AFP