Novak Djokovic Australian Open 2021

Novak Djokovic expected to ‘thrive’ in ‘hostile’ Australian Open environment, says British icon

Tim Henman feels Novak Djokovic is well positioned to deal with the “hostile” Australian Open crowds and thinks the “adversity comes with the territory.”

As World number one Djokovic’s medical exemption cancellation and deportation fiasco looks to have reached a resolution, Henman has joined Barbara Schett in predicting the Australian people will be infuriated and incensed by Djokovic’s involvement.

Djokovic had been granted a medical exemption but his visa was cancelled upon his arrival at the Australian border. Djokovic fought his deportation in court and it was ruled that he would be allowed to compete for a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title that would make him the most successful male player of all time.

The 20-time Slam champion being allowed to compete has seemingly enraged the Australian people and was best captured in a leaked expletive rant which showed two Australian news presenters label Djokovic “a lying, sneaky a**hole.”

Speaking with Eurosport, former British number one Henman said¬†“I think it will be a¬† very hostile reception.

“We all know what the¬†Australian people have been through over the last couple of years and the hardships of the lockdowns, and I don’t think in my opinion Djokovic will be well received when he goes on the court.

“I think¬†that’s unfortunate for the tournament. It’s a great event in Australia and they’ve had their challenges over the last couple of years. I hope it’s not a cloud that remains over the tournament.

“Knowing Djokovic’s attitude,¬†he seems to thrive within that sort of confrontation though. It’s obviously not the ideal preparation to be stuck in a room for four or five days but I’m sure he’s very relieved to be out and excited about the opportunity.

“Given his record in Melbourne, having won nine times, he is going to be he’s going be very difficult to beat I think.

“I think¬†the way the draw comes out is important, because it’s probably fair to say that he might be a little bit under done for the first couple of rounds, but it’s very possible for him to play himself into form if he can come through those early rounds unscathed.

“He can¬†build momentum. He has the experience of his whole career. So dealing with adversity goes with the territory.”

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Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.