Novak Djokovic lost his doubles match, but received a warm welcome from the crowd at the Adelaide International on Monday.
The 21-time grand winner was deported from Australia a year ago after arriving unvaccinated against COVID-19 at a time when the country was still subject to strict quarantine rules and proof of vaccination.
His first match was a low key doubles alongside Vasek Pospisil, and the pair lost 4-6 6-3 (10-5) to Tomislav Brkic and Gonzalo Escobar.
Questions about how he would be received were quickly answered as Djokovic’s supporters flocked to the stadium to welcome him back.
Djokovic kicks off his singles campaign against Constant Lestienne on Tuesday as he gears up for the Australian Open where he is looking for a record-extending 10th title.
Also on Monday, Czech teenager Linda Noskova produced one of the first shocks of the 2023 season, defeating eighth-ranked Daria Kasatkina of Russia 6-3 6-7 (2) 6-3 in the opening round.
18-year-old Noskova came through a tough qualifier in which she defeated world No. 58 Anna Kalinskaya and No. 43 Anastasia Potapova before taking the biggest win of her career over third-seeded Kasatkina.
Only entering her fifth main draw on the WTA Tour, the 102-ranked Noskova had never played, let alone beat, a top-10 player. She had been 0-2 against top-20 opponents.
Her best win for Monday came against 38th-seeded Alizé Cornet in the second round en route to the semi-finals in Prague last July.
Noskova took the first set comfortably in 46 minutes and broke to lead 4–3 in the second before Kasatkina broke back. She served for the game at 6-5 in, but Kasatkina again fought back to take the set in a tiebreak.
But the Czech bounced back to win the deciding set and the match in just over 2-1/2 hours, finishing with an overwhelming cross-court forehand on match point. She broke Kasatkina’s serve a total of eight times, hitting 57 winners off the ground and winning 21 of 24 points when she reached the net.
Kasatkina had an eventful 2022 season that saw her break into the top 10 again. She also came out as gay and openly denounced the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Noskova reached a ranking high of 87 in 2022 and qualified for the main draws at the French and US Opens.
“It’s been a lot of ups and downs, but I think it’s been a really good season,” said Noskova.
“I started around 300 I think, then around 100 now, so it’s pretty good progress.
“Obviously I have to pick it up a bit to get back into the (top) 100, but hopefully I’m going to make it this year.” Noskova now faces the winner of the match between Australia’s Priscilla Hon and US qualifier Claire Liu.
Later, Veronika Kudermetova of Russia beat fourth seed Amanda Anisimova of United States 6-3 6-0.
In the men’s event, Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka upset fifth-seeded Holger Rune of Denmark 2-6 6-4 6-4.