“It’s About Time”: Martina Navratilova Reflects on Roger Federer Confirming to Play in Dubai


It has been more than a year of inaction for Roger Federer now. He last played at the Australian Open 2020, where the Swiss maestro saw a straight-set loss against the Serbian Novak Djokovic. It was a tough series for him where he had to test his physical limits in 2 five-setters.  The 20-time grand slam champion later in the same year underwent double knee surgeries. All of this kept him away from the tennis court even after various countries lifted lockdown and the sport made a much-awaited return. However, the latest news is a big positive for the Federer camp. Martina Navratilova reflected on the comeback of Roger Federer The Swiss great will make his return to the ATP Tour at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha. Also, the latest development suggests that he can then play an ATP 500 tournament in nearby Dubai.  In a recent interview, a jovial Martina Navratilova learned the news and reacted with some humor. The 18-time women’s Grand Slam champion expressed, “I think he just wants to stay in Burj Al Arab again, but amazing! “It’s great to see Roger back, it’s about time for him sitting for over a year. So I’m glad he’s healthy and playing again.”  That he is coming back with an ATP 250 will ensure that he does not have to put too much pressure on himself for advancing deeper in the event. Prior to this, there were headlines that alleged Roger was fit enough to return for Australian Open 2021 and that he decided against it because of family reasons. Can the Ninjafed make a successful return? Roger Federer gestures to the spectators before hitting signed tennis balls into the stands during the 2019 Hopman Cup. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)Well, it might be an ATP 250, but it has participation from some of the best ATP players. The 2020 US Open champion Dominic Thiem, the ATP Cup 2021 hero Andrey Rublev, and of course King Roger himself will stay in the highlight of the event. Apart from these names, there are six players from the Top-20 that’ll make the competition juicier. From Roger’s Swiss companion Stan Wawrinka to Roberto Bautista Agut, Gael Monfils, and others, it will not be an easy draw for the legendary 39-YO. However, the rusty Federer is also the mighty Federer, and he has always dominated all the aforementioned names with his stinging play. Also notably, his participation in the Dubai event will depend on how his body reacts to the Qatar event. The event will kick off on March 8th and the world will cheer for the arguable GOAT. READ MORE- Why is Roger Federer Considered the GOAT?

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Grigor Dimitrov Bagels Defending Finalist Dominic Thiem to Reach Australian Open 2021 Quarterfinals


World No. 3 Dominic Thiem took on the Bulgarian talent Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth round of the Australian Open 2021. It was their sixth meeting, with the 2017 ATP World Finals champion leading the tie 3-2. The Austrian star fell victim to the Bulgarian star today, losing 6-4 6-4 6-0, in a match that lasted for two hours.  The match began with Dominic serving and he took a 1-0 lead. In the fourth game of the opening set, Thiem struck first blood and took the early break. However, Dimitrov had other plans and struck right back, taking the next four games in a row and put himself in the driver’s seat. He eventually sealed the first set 6-4 in his favor.  Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 14, 2021 Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov in action during his fourth round match against Austria’s Dominic Thiem REUTERS/Asanka Brendon RatnayakeDuring the set, it was Thiem’s unforced errors that hampered his chances. After 57 minutes on the clock, the Bulgarian got the advantage, taking a one-set lead in the fourth-round.  Grigor Dimitrov breaks Dominic Thiem early in set two Much like the first set, the Austrian player began serving in set two and broke Dimitrov’s serve in the fourth game of the set. The Bulgarian star broke back the very next game and consolidated it by holding serve the next game, to level the set at 3-3. In the ninth game, Grigor sensed an opportunity and broke Dominic again in the set, this time putting him in firm control as he served the set out in the next game, 6-4.  Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 14, 2021 Austria’s Dominic Thiem reacts during his fourth round match against Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov REUTERS/Asanka Brendon RatnayakeAfter 1 hour and 40 minutes, the Bulgarian was one set away from causing an upset at the Australian Open. The unforced errors kept on coming for the Austrian and his serve let him down too.  In the third set, the Austrian began serving and got broken immediately. In his next two service games too, Dimitrov broke him and took a 5-0 lead. After less than 20 minutes into the set, Dimitrov served for the match and won the set 6-0, which took him to the quarterfinal of the Australian Open 2021. Dimitrov didn’t commit a single unforced error, whereas Thiem registered 11 unforced errors in the third set.  ALSO READ- Qualifier Aslan Karatsev Upsets Felix Auger-Aliassime to Reach Maiden Grand Slam Quarterfinals at Australian Open 2021

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Third seed Thiem slumps out of Australian Open

Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 14, 2021 Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov and Austria’s Dominic Thiem after their fourth round match REUTERS/Jaimi Joy
MELBOURNE – Third seed Dominic Thiem slumped out of the Australian Open in lackluster fashion on Sunday, comprehensively beaten 6-4 6-4 6-0 in the fourth round by Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov.
The U.S. Open champion, who came back from two sets down to beat Nick Kyrgios in an exhausting third round battle on Friday night, looked out of sorts from the beginning of the contest and made an uncharacteristic 41 unforced errors.
While Thiem’s five-set match against Kyrgios had been played in a bear pit at John Cain Arena, Sunday’s match was witnessed by only a handful of officials and coaches on Rod Laver Arena as Melbourne’s coronavirus lockdown kept the fans away.
The first two sets followed the same pattern with Thiem taking an early 3-1 lead only for 18th seed Dimitrov to charge back at him and clinch the set.
The Austrian, losing finalist here last year, was unable to rouse himself in the third set and his Australian Open ended when he flapped a forehand long after little more than two hours on court.
“Throughout every season you have one of those matches where you keep the ball rolling,” Dimitrov said after going 4-2 up in his career record against Thiem.
“He might have had a problem, I don’t know, but I also give myself some credit for staying in there.
“He’s an extraordinary player so I’m happy with the win.”
After securing his maiden Grand Slam crown at Flushing Meadows last year, Thiem had been widely tipped to challenge Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer for more major titles this year.
Dimitrov knows all about failing to fulfil big expectations after being dubbed “Baby Fed” early in his career for the similarity of his playing style to that of Roger Federer.
The 29-year-old, who took Nadal to five sets in the 2017 semi-finals at Melbourne Park, will face Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev in his fourth Australian Open quarter-final.
“If you’re there, it’s for a reason, whether it’s a fairytale or not, you’ve got to be ready,” Dimitrov said of his preparations to face the world number 114.
“It’s going to be a battle.”

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Australian Open 2021: Dominic Thiem v Grigor Dimitrov Preview, Head-to-Head & Prediction


Grigor Dimitrov and Dominic Thiem are all set to clash in their 4th round match at Australian Open 2021. While Grigor is coming with crushing victories over his opponents, Thiem has just overcome a scare against local favorite Nick Kyrgios. Thiem v Dimitrov: Preview Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 12, 2021 Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov reacts after his third-round match. REUTERS/Asanka Brendon RatnayakeThe Bulgarian 18th seed is closing to his 30s and his desperation for a title win. He last met Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta and demolished him 6-0 1-0 before the Spaniard retired, citing some abdominal issues. Although Pablo is not heavy at his service, it was an aggressive Grigor that ensured the lead with precise returns. But it will not be easy to replicate the same performance against an athletic Dominic Thiem. In the match against Kyrgios, Thiem trailed until the beginning of the third set when he started taking the game one backhand at a time. He fought not just the 6’4” outspoken local hero, but also a roaring audience demanding Nick to destroy Thiem. That show of reliance puts Thiem at a psychological advantage. Dominic Thiem v Grigor Dimitrov: Head-to-head The two players have never met one another at a Grand Slam game before. It took them half a decade before finding each other for the first clash in 2016 at Acapulco Mexico quarters. Thiem won that game in straight sets, but Dimitrov still leads the H2H with 3-2. More concerning for Thiem is that Dimitrov came out the winner in their most recent two clashes (both on hard courts).  The Australian Open 2021 will be an opportunity for the in-form third seed to make that score, even while he’s at the top of his game. Read also  – Grigor Dimitrov Opens up About His Chances to Win a Grand Slam Thiem v Dimitrov: Match Prediction Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 12, 2021, Austria’s Dominic Thiem celebrates after winning his third-round match. REUTERS/Asanka Brendon RatnayakeIt’ll be Grigor’s big serve against Thiem’s ability to pull through long rallies. Grigor Dimitrov has been a disappointment on the bigger stages all his career. His fourth-round loss against Stefanos Tsitsipas at French Open 2020 and the forgetful second-round upset in the US Open 2020 are proof that he is not that reliable to succeed under pressure. On the other hand, Thiem is enjoying the pinnacle of his career and remains the favorite to find a place in the semis. It will be very difficult to stop Dominic Thiem who shows no signs of physical tiredness even if he is stretched to a five-setter.  Our prediction – Thiem def. Dimitrov in four sets. Read also – “Had to Accept It”: Dominic Thiem Unfazed by Crowd in Thrilling Victory Over Local Hero Nick Kyrgios at Australian Open 2021

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Australian Open: Thiem รอดชีวิตจากการทดสอบ Kyrgios ห้าชุดในภาพยนตร์สยองขวัญ

เทนนิส – ออสเตรเลียนโอเพ่น – เมลเบิร์นพาร์คเมลเบิร์นออสเตรเลีย 12 กุมภาพันธ์ 2564 โดมินิกธีอิมของออสเตรียเฉลิมฉลองหลังจากชนะนัดที่สามกับนิคคีร์กิออส REUTERS / Asanka Brendon Ratnayake MELBOURNE ของออสเตรเลีย – โดมินิกเธมกลับมาอีกครั้งเพื่อยกเครื่องการตีใหม่ – Nick Kyrgios ในแมตช์ห้าเซตสุดคลาสสิกของเขาที่ Australian Open เมื่อวันศุกร์ที่ผ่านมาเพื่อปล่อยให้ฝูงชนผิดหวังกลับบ้านในช่วงดึกเหมือนเดิมก่อนที่จะปิด 5 วันในเมลเบิร์น ในบรรยากาศของ John Cain Arena ที่ชื่นชอบของ Kyrgios แชมป์ US Open Thiem ดึงตัวเองออกจากผืนผ้าใบเพื่อเอาชนะ 4-6 4-6 6-3 6-4 6 -4 ก่อนหน้านักแข่งชาวออสเตรเลียเพื่อคว้าอันดับสี่ “ นัดแรกกับนิคที่นี่ในสนามโปรดของเขากับฝูงชนที่น่าทึ่งมีหลายสิ่งที่ง่ายกว่าให้ทำ” นักเตะหมายเลขสามชาวออสเตรียกล่าวซึ่งกำหนดผู้ชนะทีละคนผู้ชนะแบ็คแฮนด์ที่ยิ่งใหญ่อยู่ต่ำกว่าเส้น ช่างเป็นผลงาน🔥👏 @ ThiemDomi สู้กลับจากสองเซตเพื่อชนะการแข่งขันคลาสสิก🇦🇹 # AusOpen | # AO2021 pic.twitter.com/JwxgCiq1Dr – #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) วันที่ 12 กุมภาพันธ์ 2021“ มันเป็นหนึ่งในความท้าทายที่ยากที่สุดในกีฬาของเราอย่างไม่ต้องสงสัย “คืนนี้เป็นเกมที่ยิ่งใหญ่และเป็นเกมสุดท้ายที่ดีก่อนที่ม่านจะเปิดฉากมันเป็นเรื่องน่าเศร้าจริงๆที่จะพูด” ซีรีส์กรณี COVID-19 ในเมลเบิร์นหมายความว่าจะไม่มีฝูงชนอีกต่อไปในการแข่งขัน Australian Open อีกอย่างน้อยห้าวัน แต่ผู้ชมทางบ้านก็คุ้มค่ากับเงินที่จ่ายไปแล้วหากไม่ใช่ผู้ชนะที่ต้องการ Thiem ตกตะลึงในสองเซตแรกแทบจะไม่สามารถจับคู่ถุงมือได้เมื่อเทียบกับ Kyrgios ที่เติมพลังของฝูงชนเพื่อสร้างเทนนิสไฟฟ้า ระดับสูงในขณะที่บรรยากาศตึงเครียดในสนามกีฬาด้านนอกโรงยิมก็อยู่ในระดับที่แข็งเนื่องจากตำรวจขี่ม้าได้สลายฝูงชนของผู้ประท้วงต่อต้านการล็อกหลายร้อยคนเป็นเวลาประมาณหนึ่งชั่วโมงในการแข่งขัน ภายในสนามประลองคีร์กิออสขึ้นนำสองเซตด้วยวงสวิงใต้วงแขน ตั้งแต่นั้นมา Thiem ก็แทงหัวของเธออย่างโหดเหี้ยมและขโมยโมเมนตัมจากมือของชาวออสเตรเลียโดยทำหน้าที่เหมือนเครื่องจักร Kyrgios กระแทกแร็กเก็ตของเขาลงสนามอย่างสลดใจก่อนที่จะยอมแพ้ในเซตที่สามโดยมี ‘tweener’ แยกออกมา ทันใดนั้นชาวออสเตรเลียก็พิงกำแพงขณะที่ Thiem ที่ฟื้นคืนชีพเริ่มถือไม้ของเขาเหมือนไม้กายสิทธิ์ ในช่วงเวลาที่บ้าคลั่งคีร์กิออสโยน ‘ทวีนเนอร์’ อีกคนแทนที่จะระดมยิงในสนามกว้างทำให้เสียโอกาสที่จะนำ 5-4 ในเซตที่สี่ Thiem เสียค่าใช้จ่ายสามเด้งระเบิดเพื่อทำลายและในการเปลี่ยนแปลงในตอนท้าย Kyrgios ผู้โกรธแค้นยิงลูกบอลขึ้นสูงจนเสียคะแนนอัตโนมัติเนื่องจากละเมิดกฎการพิจารณาคดีครั้งที่สอง ครู่ต่อมาการแข่งขันก็สมดุลขณะที่คีร์กิออสยิงไกลเพื่อยอมรับ Thiem คว้าเวลาของเขาก่อนที่จะทำลาย Kyrgios 3-3 ในการแข่งขันที่น่าปวดหัว “ มันเป็นเรื่องน่าขัน” คีร์กีออสกล่าวหลังจากเห็นผู้ชนะในธีเอมคนอื่นแซงหน้าเขาก่อนที่ออสเตรียจะคุกเข่าลงเพื่อเสิร์ฟการแข่งขัน อ่านเพิ่มเติมอย่าพลาดข่าวสารและข้อมูลล่าสุด สมัครสมาชิก INQUIRER PLUS เพื่อเข้าถึง The Philippine Daily Inquirer และชื่อเรื่องอื่น ๆ อีกกว่า 70 รายการแชร์แกดเจ็ตได้สูงสุด 5 ชิ้นรับฟังข่าวสารดาวน์โหลดเร็วที่สุด 4 โมงเช้าและแบ่งปันบทความเกี่ยวกับเทศกาลโซเชียลมีเดีย โทร 896 6000 สำหรับข้อเสนอแนะข้อร้องเรียนหรือคำถามโปรดติดต่อเรา



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Dominant Thiem races into Australian Open third round

Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 10, 2021 Austria’s Dominic Thiem celebrates after winning his second round match against Germany’s Dominik Koepfer REUTERS/Kelly Defina
US Open champion Dominic Thiem stepped up a gear Wednesday to race past German Dominik Koepfer for the loss of just six games and into the Australian Open third round.
The third seed was in the zone on Margaret Court Arena, cruising through 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 to set up a potential blockbuster clash next with crowd favorite Nick Kyrgios, who plays French 29th seed Ugo Humbert in a night session.
Left-hander Koepfer, ranked 70, had never before defeated a top-five opponent and was out of his depth in the 1hr 39mins mauling.
He gave Thiem a run for his money in the opening set but then self-imploded on a hot day with the Austrian dominating on his serve, returning well and owning the baseline.
“It was great, to be honest,” Thiem said of his performance.
“I really love this court and have pretty good stats on it, so super happy to be back.”
“Today was good,” he added. “My best match so far in Australia (this year).
Thiem, a narrow loser to Novak Djokovic in last year’s Melbourne final, finally cracked the big time when he produced a historic comeback to beat Alexander Zverev in the US Open final last year.
He is in Melbourne without his coach Nicolas Massu, who tested positive for the coronavirus, and is instead working under his father, Wolfgang.

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Aus Open 2021 women’s singles results Day 1: Thiem, Zverev, Wawrinka and Raonic advance to round 2; check full list of winners here


Aus Open 2021 men’s singles results Day 1– In one of the main contests on Day 1, the world number 3 Dominic Thiem advanced to the second round following his win over Mikhail Kukushin of Kazakshtan. The US Open 2020 champion won 7-6(2), 6-2 and 6-3 in straight sets. Meanwhile, 10th seed Gael Monfils crashed out of the Aus Open 2021 after he was beaten 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 by Finn Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland in one of the biggest upsets of Day 1 in men’s tennis.Meanwhile, Seventh seed Alexandar Zverev too booked a place in the second round. The German came out on top after losing the first set against Marcos Giron. He won 6-7, 7-6, 6-3 and 6-2.In other contests, Stan Wawrinka made a confident start to Aus Open 2021 by defeating P Sousa of Portugal to book his place in round 2 of AO2021. The three-time Grand Slam champion needed only an hour and 36 minutes to bring down the 108th seed Sousa 6-3, 6-2 and 6-4. The former World No.3 awaits the winner of Marton Fucsovics and Marc Polmons. In another dominating battle, 14th seed Milos Raonic too outclassed his opponent Federico Coria 6-3, 6-2 and 6-2 to secure his berth in the second round of the first grand slam of the year. Raonic too only needed an hour and 33 minutes to take down the Argentine.Other winners of the opening round clashes include C Moutet, A Bolt, M Kecmanovic, A Karatsev, R Opieka, E Ruusuvuori, A Mannarino and P Martinez.Later today, defending champion Novak Djokovic will be in action against Jeremy Chardy of France while 19th seed Girgor Dmitrov will play against Marin Cilic in key contests. Former World No. 4 Kei Nishikori will face the 16th seed P Carreno Busta of Spain. Meanwhile, Nick Kyrios will play against F Ferreira Silva in the opening round of Aus Open 2021. 

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US Open champion Thiem clears Kazakh hurdle

FILE PHOTO: Tennis – ATP Finals – The O2, London, Britain – November 22, 2020 Austria’s Dominic Thiem reacts during his final match against Russia’s Daniil Medvedev Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs
US Open champion Dominic Thiem was given an unexpectedly tough test as he kicked off his bid for a maiden Australian Open title Monday, pressed hard by Kazakh veteran Mikhail Kukushkin before racing to the finish line.
The third-seeded Austrian, a narrow loser to Novak Djokovic in last year’s Melbourne final, came through his match on Rod Laver Arena 7-6 (7/2), 6-2, 6-3, but was made to work for it.
“It’s interesting because it’s the first time I’ve met him and there’s not too many I didn’t meet on tour,” said Thiem of his opponent.
“He’s very experienced and the first set was super-challenging. But, in general, I’m very happy to be back and have success in the first round.”
Kukushkin, 33, had lost his opening-round match at Melbourne on 11 of his previous 12 appearances.
Thiem will next play either German Dominik Keopfer or Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien, with Australia’s Nick Kyrgios looming as a potential third-round opponent.
Now 27, the baseliner finally cracked the big time when he produced a historic comeback to beat Alexander Zverev in the US Open final last year.
He is in Melbourne without his coach Nicolas Massu, who tested positive for the coronavirus, and is instead working under his father, Wolfgang.

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Dominic Thiem Reveals Australian Open 2021 Courts Are ‘Very Fast and a Bit More Slippery’


The conditions at Australian Open 2021 differ from last year because of a lot of factors. And as players have played on the courts of Melbourne Park in the pre-events, they see a few changes. World No.3 Dominic Thiem feels the court is faster and more slippery than last year. In his post-match press conference, Thiem discussed the court surface. He revealed that the general consensus between the players is that the court is considerably faster than last year. “Everybody I talk to is saying that the surface is very fast, way faster than last year.” Austria’s Dominic Thiem during his group stage match against Italy’s Matteo Berrettini. REUTERS/Jaimi JoyDominic Thiem reveals that the courts at Australian Open 2021 have been resurfaced The factor of why the courts are faster can be attributed to the resurfacing of the court. The courts in Melbourne Park were resurfaced this year, and that is why it is fast and even slippery according to Thiem. “And I also have the feeling that it’s that way I think they resurfaced this, so it’s a new surface again but way faster than last year a little bit more slippery as well so probably it’s better for some other players than last year,” Thiem said. The Australian Open 2021 is being held under the scorching Australian February sun. The temperature at Melbourne Park will be over 40 degrees celsius and players will get dehydrated and tired very fast. The conditions are much warmer than during the usual Aussie Open, and so the ball bounce will be higher and faster. This especially will play in the hands of Dominic Thiem. Over the past few years, Thiem has reinvented his game and adapted to fast hard courts. Thiem is now a prominent hard court player with his fast stroke play. His forehand uses the high bounce very well and skids off the surface faster. The one prominent player who suffers under warm and faster conditions is Rafael Nadal. And with Nadal under tremendous stress because of a lower back injury, it will be a tough Grand Slam for the Spaniard. With Nadal struggling, Thiem effectively is the only challenger to Novak Djokovic. Let’s see if he cracks the Djokovic puzzle at the Australian Open. Read More: Daniil Medvedev Reveals Why he Broke His No-Celebration Rule After ATP Cup 2021 Victory

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Who can stop Djokovic? Controversial king eyes 9th Aussie crown

FILE – Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates after defeating Switzerland’s Roger Federer in their semifinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
Novak Djokovic has not endeared himself to fans over the past year, but the Australian Open’s undisputed king will take some stopping as he targets a record-extending ninth title at Melbourne Park.
Djokovic claimed his 17th Grand Slam crown in last year’s gripping final, when he came back from 2-1 down to edge Austria’s Dominic Thiem in five sets.
The Serbian’s eighth victory in 16 visits reinforced his dominance in Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena, where he claimed his first Grand Slam title in 2008 and has won seven of the last 10 editions.
Rafael Nadal and Thiem look to be his biggest rivals at this year’s tournament, with six-time Australian Open champion Roger Federer sidelined as he recovers from double knee surgery.
The Australian Open was the highlight of a mesmerizing early 2020 season for Djokovic, who won his first four tournaments of the year.
However, off-court, things soon unraveled for the elastic-limbed world number one.
After tennis went into lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic, Djokovic launched the ill-fated Adria Tour in June, with no social distancing and players pictured dancing shirtless at a packed nightclub.
Djokovic and his wife Jelena were among a number of people to subsequently test positive for the virus, with Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki also falling ill.
Line judge row
Worse was to come when tennis resumed and Djokovic defaulted out of the US Open in sensational fashion, when he angrily swiped away a ball that accidentally hit a female line judge in the throat.
His hopes of becoming the first man in half a century to win all four Slams twice then ended in a straight-sets defeat to Nadal in the French Open final.
Djokovic also drew negative comment in August for launching the Professional Tennis Players Association, a breakaway group outside the men’s tour, as tennis attempted to get back on its feet.
And he found himself labeled a “tool” by Australia’s Nick Kyrgios after requesting better conditions for players during Australia’s mandatory quarantine, including private houses with tennis courts.
Despite the off-court turbulence, Djokovic enjoys strong support in Melbourne — which has a sizeable Serbian population — and said Rod Laver Arena brings back “beautiful memories”.
“It does feel like a home for me in Australia, in Melbourne, particularly in Rod Laver,” he said.
“That is by far my most successful tennis court in my career. Had some profound memories in the last 15 years, and you know, won my first Grand Slam back in 2008.
“Had probably the most exciting matches played on this court, and definitely the longest match ever that I played was in the finals, almost six hours with Rafa (Nadal) in 2012.”
Nadal will undoubtedly figure prominently in the tournament but it is now 12 years since he won his lone title in Melbourne, despite four more trips to the final.
The Spaniard also has fitness concerns after he pulled out of the ATP Cup during warm-up week with a sore back.
Thiem came agonizingly close to victory last year and, buoyed by his first Grand Slam title at the US Open, will be confident against anyone in the draw — including Djokovic, against whom he has won five of their last seven meetings.
Alexander Zverev, Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas are also among the top contenders at a tournament where form is difficult to judge, with playing opportunities hard to come by during the pandemic.

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