Adelaide International draw: Novak Djokovic’s first public appearance

After last summer’s deportation drama, viewers flocked to Novak Djokovic’s first public training session on Australian soil. Watch the Adelaide International preliminary draw.

Djokovic mania is in full swing at the Adelaide International.

As Australia’s James Duckworth, Rinky Hijikata and Lizette Cabrera battled their way through their late afternoon qualifiers on Saturday, spectators left the outside courts as news spread that the 21-time Grand Slam champion would be scoring on center court .

Hundreds flocked to the newly revamped 4,000-seat arena on Memorial Drive to watch the world No. 5’s first public training session since his much-anticipated return to Australia following last summer’s deportation drama.

If he had had any qualms about a chilly reception from Australian fans, Novak Djokovic would have been heartened by the loud cheers that echoed through the arena as he stepped onto the pitch.

The 35-year-old beamed and applauded the crowd with his racquet before returning to his training routine.

SCROLL DOWN TO SEE PRELIMINARY DRAW

Djokovic had previously trained on Thursday and Friday but neither session was open to the public. Saturday’s instance was the first opportunity fans had to catch a glimpse of the tournament’s big draw and the status of the Serbian superstar was immediately apparent.

Even some Adelaide Strikers fans, on loan from the Big Bash League blockbuster on New Year’s Eve at the adjacent Adelaide Oval, submitted to catch a glimpse of Djokovic getting his pre-tournament replays.

Such is the shadow Djokovic has cast over Adelaide International that many of his rivals – even big stars – fly under the radar.

On Friday, a photographer was even overheard asking: “Who is the kid?” in reference to the young man batting with Djokovic during a quiet batting session.

The “kid” was world No. 15 Jannik Sinner – three-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist in 2022 and current protégé of South Australian tennis star Darren Cahill.

Djokovic told the media on Thursday he has said goodbye to last summer’s big drama and the first signs are the fans too.

Tricky road to Djokovic-Kokkinakis Adelaide showdown

Hometown hero and defending Adelaide International champion Thanasi Kokkinakis will avoid meeting Novak Djokovic until the final, but the Australian ace’s journey there is far from easy.

Kokkinakis drew against top-ranked American Maxime Cressy in Sunday’s opening round, and his path to the final takes him through sixth-seeded Jannik Sinner and three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray – all just to reach the semifinals.

Djokovic stated earlier this week that the strength of this year’s field is much higher than his ATP250 classification and with Saturday’s preliminary draw now in the books, the Serbian superstar’s words definitely ring true.

If Kokkinakis makes it to the semifinals, a date with Canadian runner-up Felix Auger-Aliassime or fifth-placed Holger Rune is the likely hurdle to a possible Djokovic final.

However, fellow Australian Jordan Thompson will have a much shorter wait to trade groundstrokes with Djokovic – a round of 16 is imminent provided he gets past a first match against Frenchman Quentin Halys.

And it won’t get much easier for Sydney’s Christopher O’Connell, who will likely be awaited by 2021 and 2022 Australian Open runner-up Daniil Medvedev in the round of 16 should he defeat Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic in the opener.

Alexei Popyrin, James Duckworth and Rinky Hijikata all kept their qualifying hopes alive with opening victories on Saturday, but John Millman’s bid for a place in the main draw was thwarted by a straight-set loss to Canada’s Vasek Pospisil.

South Australian wildcard Edward Winter was only able to take a game off world No. 92 Taro Daniel.

But the biggest shock from qualifying on Saturday came from Dominic Thiem. The former world No. 3 – a perennial last-16 competitor at the Australian Open – was defeated 6-4, 6-1 by senior qualifier Soonwoo Kwon.

Five Grand Slam champions and four current top 10 players compete in an elite field on the women’s side of the draw.

Returning to the scene of her first top-20 scalpel, Brisbane’s Priscilla Hon must battle her way through a stacked top half of the draw to improve her 2022 second-round exit.

Hon marked a major career milestone last January when she defeated two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova after losing, before losing to former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka in her next match.

The 24-year-old faces a qualifier in this year’s opening round, after which world No. 8 Daria Kasatkina awaits.

Hon’s path through the draw includes 2022 Australian Open runner-up Danielle Collins and Tunisian world number two Ons Jabeur.

Australia wildcard Jaimee Fourlis also qualified for company in the opening round and should she advance, a brutal second match in the form of Jabeur – whose way to the last 16 is secured courtesy of a bye.

Storm Hunter and Kim Birrell have survived their first qualifiers and meet Viktorija Golubic and Shelby Rogers respectively for a place in the main draw, however Lizette Cabrera’s qualification was ended by Egypt’s Mayar Sherif.

ATP250 PRELIMINARY DRAW

Novak Djokovic SRB (1) vs Constant Lestienne (FRA)

Jordan Thompson AUS (WC) vs Quentin Halys FRA

Mikael Ymer SWE against qualification

Qualification against Denis Shapovalov CAN (7)

Daniil Medvedev (3) v Lorenzo Sonego ITA

Miomir Kecmanovic SRB – Christopher O’Connell AUS (WC)

Qualification against Jack Draper GBR

Pedro Cachin ARG vs. Karen Khachanov (8)

Jannik Sinner ITA (6) vs. Kyle Edmund GBR (PR)

Thanasi Kokkinakis AUS (WC) vs Maxime Cressy USA

Andy Murray GBR vs Sebastian Korda USA

Robeto Bautista Agut ESP vs. Andrey Rublev (4)

Holger Rune DEN (5) vs. Yoshihito Nishioka JPN

Mackenzie McDonald USA vs Daniel Elahi Galan COL

Marcos Giron USA vs Richard Gasquet FRA

Qualification against Felix Auger-Aliassime CAN (2)

WTA500 PRELIMINARY DRAW

Ons Jabeur TUN (1) Bye

Sorana Cirstea ROU vs Qualification

Jaimee Fourlis AUS (WC) vs Qualification

Elena Rybakina KAZ vs Danielle Collins USA (5)

Daroa Kasatkina (3) against qualification

Priscilla Hon AUS (WC) vs Qualification

Qualification against Victoria Azarenka

Qinwen Zheng CHN – Anett Kontaveit EST (6)

Jelena Ostapenko LAT (7) v Karolina Pliskova CZE

Irina-Camelia Begu ROU vs Qualification

Garbine Muguruza ESP (WC) vs Bianca Andreescu CAN (SR)

Amanda Anisimova USA vs Veronika Kudermetova (4)

Ekaterina Alexandrova (8) vs Marketa Vondrousova CZE (SR)

Kaia Kanepi EST

V Aliaksandra Sasnovich

Shuai Zhang CHN vs. Liudmila Samsonova

Aryna Sabalenka (2) Bye

Originally published as Adelaide International: Novak Djokovic’s first public appearance was met with critical acclaim

https://www.codesports.com.au/tennis/adelaide-international-preliminary-draw-reveals-novak-djokovic-path-to-final/news-story/bca07529777f3fbcbe63bc69d3afc4a2?nk=7a5d230631cc85c1d2badc0d66118b5f-1672500487 Adelaide International draw: Novak Djokovic’s first public appearance

Ryan Sederquist

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