Novak Djokovic got his Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships campaign up and running in fine fashion with a straightforward straight-sets win over Italian wild card Lorenzo Musetti on Monday night.
Unlike the past few months, which have seen the Serb hit the headlines for all thew wrong reasons, the smile was back on his face in Dubai.
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Djokovic was deported from Australia following a long-drawn visa saga that also saw the 20-time Grand Slam winner detained in Melbourne. Since then he has reiterated his stance to remain unvaccinated but is ready to turn a new page in Dubai and get back to playing tennis.
He definitely did his talking on the court with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Musetti. "I couldn't think of a better place and a better way to kickstart my season and the support I have had out here is amazing," he said.
Andy Murray, who also made it through to the second round, was glad to see his friend playing again — even if he does not agree with his vaccine stance.
“Actually I’ve not seen him here yet,’ Murray said after his win over Australian qualifier Christopher O’Connell. “We shared a few messages while he was in Australia. Like I said at the time, I don’t agree with his decision. I think it would be a lot easier for him obviously if he was to get vaccinated.
“But I also didn’t like seeing him in the situation that he was in Australia as someone that I respect, have known since I was a child. I didn’t like seeing that. I think it would be better for tennis if he was playing all of the major events.
“There is consequences to the decisions he’s made just now. He obviously has to accept that. But I don’t think it’s great for tennis if our best player is not competing in the major events.”
 N. Djokovic (SRB) d [WC] L. Musetti (ITA) 63 63
[Q] J. Vesely (CZE) d M. Cilic (CRO) 64 76(3)
[Q] T. Daniel (JPN) d D. Goffin (BEL) 63 76(5)
[WC] A. Murray (GBR) d [Q] C. O'Connell (AUS) 67(4) 63 75
F. Krajinovic (SRB) d [WC] M. Jaziri (TUN) 67(4) 62 64
S. Gille (BEL) / J. Vliegen (BEL) d [LL] D. Evans (GBR) / K. Skupski (GBR) 64 75
H. Hurkacz (POL) / J. Sinner (ITA) d [Q] A. Bublik (KAZ) / A. Celikbilek (TUR) 76(6) 64
ORDER OF PLAY
CENTRE COURT start 2:00pm
 A. Karatsev (RUS) vs M. McDonald (USA)
Not Before 4:00pm
A. Davidovich Fokina (ESP) vs  J. Sinner (ITA)
Not Before 7:00pm
D. Evans (GBR) vs  A. Rublev (RUS)
M. Fucsovics (HUN) vs  D. Shapovalov (CAN)
COURT 1 start 2:00pm
K. Khachanov (RUS) vs A. de Minaur (AUS)
 H. Hurkacz (POL) vs A. Bublik (KAZ)
[LL] A. Popyrin (AUS) vs N. Basilashvili (GEO)
A. Rinderknech (FRA) vs  R. Bautista Agut (ESP)
COURT 2 start 2:00pm
[PR] A. Krajicek (USA) / E. Roger-Vasselin (FRA) vs [WC] A. Al Janahi (UAE) / O. Alawadhi (UAE)
K. Krawietz (GER) / A. Mies (GER) vs A. Golubev (KAZ) / F. Martin (FRA)
After Rest -  N. Mektic (CRO) / M. Pavic (CRO) vs R. Bopanna (IND) / A. Karatsev (RUS)
COURT 3 start 2:00pm
[LL] A. Molcan (SVK) vs L. Harris (RSA)
I. Ivashka (BLR) vs S. Kwon (KOR)
J. Struff (GER) vs [Q] R. Berankis (LTU)
 J. Peers (AUS) / F. Polasek (SVK) vs [WC] S. Myneni (IND) / R. Ramanathan (IND)