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Novak Djokovic fears raised as tennis star’s return pondered after Australian Open debacle

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NOVAK DJOKOVIC is set to return to action in Dubai.

Novak Djokovic fears have been raised by former top-30 player Richard Gasquet, who hinted that the 20-time Grand Slam winner may not return to action in the best form. Djokovic was kicked out of Australia after a long-running Covid battle with the government in January.

Djokovic has yet to give his full side of the story after returning to his Serbian home.

The 34-year-old may encounter more problems while he refuses to have the Covid jab, which is a requirement to enter a lot of countries.

However the Dubai Tennis Championships, which get underway on February 21, are allowing tennis stars to compete regardless of their Covid status.

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Djokovic will make his eagerly-awaited return in the Middle East, but Gasquet has raised questions of the level of tennis he will be able to play.

“What moved to Australia was very hard on Djokovic, it will be interesting to see how he returns to Dubai,” Gasquet said.

“One might think that this will increase his motivation tenfold, but this is different.

“He is used to fighting with the public against him, against his rival, and sometimes against himself, but this must have been much more difficult for him.

“It’s a totally different type of pressure. Afterwards, he is one of the strongest players mentally, so maybe that will motivate him even more.”

Speaking ahead of the event, Dubai tournament director Salah Tahlak said: “I think it’s great to have him back because he is the number one player in the world

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“He has been our former champion and, for this city and this tournament, it’s absolutely great to have him back.

“I think we have to always be positive. Dubai is a positive city. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed is always positive.”

Meanwhile, Monte Carlo Masters tournament director Zeljko Franulovic is also hoping to welcome Djokovic when his even gets underway in April.

“He has to be in order,” he said

“For the moment, as far as I know, he is not vaccinated.

“As soon as he is in good health with respect to government regulations, we will welcome him with open arms.”

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