Novak Djokovic got a good idea of how he will be received at the US Open as he returned to Arthur Ashe Stadium for a practice session on Wednesday. It was his first time on the main show court since losing the final in 2021 and the world No 2 received a rousing reception as the fans chanted his name.
Djokovic is preparing to play the US Open for the first time in two years. The 36-year-old had previously been stopped from competing in the States because of Covid vaccine travel requirements, as he opted not to get jabbed.
The world No 2 already had a successful return in Cincinnati, lifting the title in his first tournament back in America, where he also had huge crowd support. And that’s expected to continue in Flushing Meadows, given the reaction he received when stepping out onto Arthur Ashe on Wednesday afternoon.
With spectators allowed to watch practice sessions on the main showcourt as part of fan week, there were loud cheers as Djokovic stepped out and waved. When he put his stuff down on a bench, the crowd started chanting “Novak”.
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The three-time US Open champion also stayed behind to sign autographs and take photos with fans when his session was done. And he kept the crowd entertained while he had a hit, imitating several other players.
Djokovic earned more cheers when he impersonated John McEnroe’s service motion before pretending to approach the umpire’s chair and shouting: “You cannot be serious.” The Serb also imitated Nick Kyrgios, leaving the fans in stitches.
It comes after Djokovic admitted he didn’t know how the fans would receive him at last week’s Cincinnati Open. Speaking after he lifted the title, the 23-time Major winner said: “Couple years not being in USA, obviously I didn’t know the way I’m going to be accepted by the fans or welcomed. It was a perfect week in every sense. I just have obviously big, big thanks to say and to give to all of them.”
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US Open tennis makes its long-awaited return to Sky Sports and it’s certainly not something to be missed.
Sky Sports subscribers on Sky Glass, Sky Stream, Sky Q, and the Sky Sports app will be able to watch all courts for the first time on Sky Sports.
Want to watch the US Open Tennis but don’t own Sky?
Never fear as you can get Sky Glass, Sky TV, Netflix for £14 a month for six months – thanks to a limited time deal.
You can also get six months Sky Sports completely free.
It’s also no surprise that the fans in Flushing Meadows are eager to welcome Djokovic back, as they were fully on his side during his last match at the US Open. During the final in 2021, the Serb was bidding to complete the Calendar Grand Slam and win what then would have been a record 21st men’s Major singles title.
He ended up losing to Daniil Medvedev in straight sets but the 36-year-old was reduced to tears when he realised the fans were pulling for him until the very last moment. During his runner-up speech afterwards, an emotional Djokovic told the crowd: “Even though I have not won the match, my heart is filled with joy and I am the happiest man alive because you guys made me feel very special on the court. You guys touched my soul.”
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