Novak Djokovic will make his debut at the 2023 Australian Open in the late Italian morning of Tuesday. The former world number 1 is the most anticipated man at Melbourne Park, a tournament in which he has won nine times and which he considers his living room. Nole’s presence acquires even more importance after the events of last year, with the infamous soap opera that led to his expulsion from the country. The Serbian phenomenon was drawn at the bottom of the draw and doesn’t seem to have an impossible path, especially after Nick Kyrgios’ sensational forfeit. The 35-year-old from Belgrade is dealing with a left hamstring injury, which prevented him from training as he would have liked in the days leading up to the start of the Grand Slam. The first obstacle in Novak’s path is Roberto Carballes Baena, already defeated at the 2019 US Open with a score of 6-4 6-1 6-4. There is great curiosity around the conditions of the ‘Djoker’, who is hunting for his tenth seal ‘Down Under’. In an interview for the ATP website, Carballes Baena spoke about the imminent challenge with Djokovic.
Carballes Baena on Nole Djokovic
“For sure, it is something that when I saw the draw, it was tough in one way,” Carballes Baena told ATPTour.com. “But in the other way it’s a very good experience for me. I think (Rod Laver Arena is) one of the best courts in the world, so I will try to enjoy, I will try to give my best, and I will try to do a good match. The first five, 10 minutes, I was a little bit nervous. It was very different. It was like a movie. It is like they have a (clapper), and you have to start to play now. But after five or 10 minutes you start to focus on your game, try to give your best,” Carballes Baena said. He continued: “I think maybe I know Novak Djokovic a little bit more than the first time. I saw him so many times on TV, but I didn’t play against him. I know that he’s very good in everything, but I think I have more of an idea how to play. It’s a special match. … I will try to give my best, and I will try to have some chances.” Tennis coach Patrick Mouratoglou believes that Novak Djokovic is far from his best level heading into the 2023 Australian Open. “Despite incredible support from the crowd, his level of play is linked with being a very emotional situation, him going back to Australia after what happened last year. How will he feel once in Melbourne, we will see.”