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Novak Djokovic wins first match at Australian Open since deportation

Australian Open Tennis
Posted at 7:38 AM, Jan 17, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-17 10:39:55-05

Novak Djokovic made a successful return to the Australian Open.

The Serbian beat Spain's Roberto Carballes Baena in straights sets in the first round of the grand slam tournament on Tuesday.

Djokovic, a nine-time champion of the event, did not play in the tournament last year. He was deported from Australia for not being vaccinated against COVID-19 despite providing a medical exemption.

Arriving in Rod Laver for his match, Djokovic was greeted with a massive round of applause. Throughout the match, the crowd cheered as the former world No. 1 showcased his talent, proving why he is the favorite to win the tournament for the 10th time.

"Thank you for giving me such a welcoming reception I can only dream of," Djokovic told the crowd after the match. "I really feel very happy that I'm back in Australia, back here on the court where I had the biggest success in my career."

While Djokovic entered the tournament as the favorite, many tennis observers kept a close eye on his heavily-strapped left thigh. He suffered an injury during the semifinals of a previous event in Australia but still went on to win the tournament. He showed no signs of discomfort in the match against Carballes Baena.

Djokovic will have one day off before his second round match. He is seeking his 21st grand slam title, which would tie him with Rafael Nadal for the most major trophies in men's tennis.