Wimbledon may be where his heart is but Melbourne Park still boasts Novak Djokovic’s favourite centre court as the super Serb looks to dominate tennis for years to come.
Despite being ingloriously deported on the eve of this year’s first grand slam in January that, not only does Djokovic refuse to harbour any ill-will towards Australia, he dreams of returning to resume his Rod Laver Arena love affair.
Djokovic has won an unrivalled nine grand slam titles in Melbourne and not even his notorious visa dramas will keep the 35-year-old away if – and when – the Australian government allows him to return.
“Australia probably is the place where I feel most comfortable because of my record there,” he said after landing a seventh Wimbledon crown and 21st major with a 4-6 6-3 6-4 7-6 (7-3) final triumph over Nick Kyrgios at the All England Club.
“Winning the title many times (in Melbourne), that’s the court where I would probably like to play. If I have to pick one match or one court, it would be there.
“Wimbledon is kind of close to that considering the success I had, particularly in the last seven, eight years.
“This centre court and this tournament still has the most special place in my heart because it has always been my childhood dream tournament.”
Djokovic’s deportation from Australia carries an automatic three-year ban from entering the country.
The 35-year-old would need a change of heart from the new Labor government to allow him back in for next year’s Australian Open.
Nor is Djokovic expecting to play the US Open, which starts on August 29 – but he’s hoping.
“I am on vacation,” he said.
“Whether or not I’m playing any tournament soon, I’ll definitely be resting for the next couple weeks because it has been quite an exhausting and demanding period for me the last few months.
“A lot of tennis, which I was very happy about. I got what I wanted here.
“Then I’ll wait hopefully for some good news from USA because I would really love to go there.
“That would be probably the next big tournament, the next big swing, playing a tournament or two before US Open and US Open.”
Asked what good news he was awaiting from America, Djokovic said: “I’m not vaccinated and I’m not planning to get vaccinated so the only good news I can have is them removing the mandated green vaccine card or whatever you call it to enter United States or exemption.
“I don’t know. I don’t think exemption is realistically possible … I think it’s just whether or not they remove this in time for me to get to USA.”
Regardless whether he can compete in New York or Melbourne, Djokovic says retirement is not in sight.
“I don’t feel I’m in a rush, really, anywhere to end my career in a year or two year’s time – or whatever it is.”