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Novak Djokovic finally gets season underway in Dubai to loud cheers

A handout picture made available by the press office of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship on February 20, 2022 shows Serbian Tennis player Novak Djokovic holding a press conference ahead of the ATP Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in the Gulf emirate of Dubai. Djokovic says he's been given a ’positive’ reception from players in the locker room and is ’excited’ to get back on court for his first match of the season at the Dubai ATP tournament. Photo: Jorge Ferrari/AFP

A handout picture made available by the press office of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship on February 20, 2022 shows Serbian Tennis player Novak Djokovic holding a press conference ahead of the ATP Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in the Gulf emirate of Dubai. Djokovic says he's been given a ’positive’ reception from players in the locker room and is ’excited’ to get back on court for his first match of the season at the Dubai ATP tournament. Photo: Jorge Ferrari/AFP

Published Feb 21, 2022

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Dubai — World number one Novak Djokovic finally got his season underway in Dubai on Monday, playing for the first time this year after being deported from Australia for not being vaccinated.

At 2215 local time (1815GMT), Djokovic arrived on court to face Italian teenager Lorenzo Musetti in his first competitive match since the Davis Cup Finals in early December.

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The Serbian star was greeted by loud cheers from a packed Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium as he kicked off his quest for a sixth title in the Emirates.

The 34-year-old's hopes of winning a 10th Australian Open, and 21st Grand Slam, in Melbourne last month were shattered when he had his visa cancelled and was deported.

Djokovic can play in Dubai as a coronavirus vaccine is not a requirement to enter the United Arab Emirates.

Earlier on Centre Court, former world number one Andy Murray dropped a 68-minute opening set before coming back to defeat Australian qualifier Christopher O'Connell 6-7 (4/7), 6-3, 7-5 in a three-hour battle.

The three-time Grand Slam winner, competing in Dubai for the first time since he won the title in 2017, next takes on Italian fourth seed Jannik Sinner or Spain's Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

AFP

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Novak DjokovicTennis

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