Five weeks after his controversial deportation from Australiabeing considered by the Government of the oceanic country as a bad influence on the population due to its refusal to be vaccinated, Novak Djokovic will debut the 2022 season at the ATP 500 in Dubai. On January 16, one day before the first Grand Slam of the year began in Melbourne, the Serbian had to pack his bags and was unable to defend the title won in 2021 and that in the end it went to Rafa Nadal, who overtook him in the number of major trophies with 21. Today (5:30 p.m., Movistar Deportes) he will face the Italian Lorenzo Musetti, that put him on the ropes in the second round of the last Roland Garros when he won the first two sets, before retiring bottomless in the middle of Djokovic’s comeback.
“I was saddened by everything that happened and how I had to leave the country. Afterwards, I really wanted to play and compete again. Now I have extra motivation”warns the number one in the world, that could lose the leadership of the ranking if it does not reach at least the quarterfinals in Dubai. Daniil Medvedev, with whom he maintains “a good relationship” despite the fact that it prevented him from winning the US Open last year, would overtake him in that case even if he does not achieve a good result in Acapulco, a tournament in which he is first seeded and where he could face Rafa Nadal in the semifinals, in what would be the revenge of the recent final in Australia that the Spaniard won. “Medvedev deserves to be number one. If he does it this week I will be the first to congratulate him”, revealed yesterday Djokovic, who a few days ago recognized the mistakes made before traveling to Melbourne (“I was wrong to do that interview for L’Équipe, I thought selfishly”) and did not close the door to a possible vaccination in the future. “I keep my mind open and I am not exclusive. Everything in life is possible. We will see how the situation evolves. Now I have decided not to get vaccinated and I am willing to accept the consequences,” he explains.
The fact is that his convictions will prevent him from playing at Indian Wells and possibly Roland Garros and the US Open. For other tournaments, like the one in Rome, there are discrepancies between politicians about their participation. “I’m going to have to follow the regulations. As long as they allow me to play a tournament, I’ll go,” warns the Balkan. On Acapulco, Nadal will try to add his 91st title in a high level event with the opposition, among others, of Medvedev, Zverev, Tsitsipas and Berrettini. On Tuesday he will face the giant Opelka (2.11). From there, the Spaniard spoke of Djokovic: “What he has done will affect his history if he can play or not. It will affect him. I don’t know if it will affect the Grand Slams. Everyone makes their decisions and must live with them.”