Copy of 2023-01-02T030121Z_2089059519_UP1EJ1208E7FM_RTRMADP_3_TENNIS-ADELAIDE-1672658388141
Serbia's Novak Djokovic (left) and Canada's Vasek Pospisil during their first round doubles match against Bosnia's Tomislav Brkic and Ecuador's Gonzalo Escobar Tennis at the Adelaide International, Memorial Drive Tennis Club, Adelaide, Australia. Image Credit: REUTERS

Adelaide: Tennis fans gave Novak Djokovic a raucous welcome during his first match in Australia in almost two years when he made a rare doubles appearance at the Adelaide International on Monday.

Playing with Canada’s Vasek Pospisil, they lost to doubles specialists Tomislav Brkic and Gonzalo Escobar 4-6, 6-3, 10/5 but enjoyed overwhelming crowd support along the way.

The Serbian superstar was deported from the country before the 2022 Australian Open for not being vaccinated for Covid and was subsequently barred from re-entering for three years.

Ban lifted

But the ban was lifted in November and he will be attempting to win a 10th Australian Open title later this month. The match was played on a packed outside court, with the spectators who managed to get in firmly behind Djokovic.

He walked out to loud cheers and fans chanting “Novak, Novak”.

While there were plenty of Serbian flags courtside, it became obvious that everyone was barracking for the 35-year-old, who stayed behind to sign autographs and pose for selfies after the match.

Djokovic will now focus on his first singles of the year, against Frenchman Constant Lestienne.