"Only other man who’s won 10 is Rafa, so I think he’ll be going hard" - Paul McNamee on Novak Djokovic's 2023 Australian Open chances

Novak Djokovic (L) and Rafael Nadal.
Novak Djokovic (L) and Rafael Nadal.

Former doubles No. 1 Paul McNamee recently opined about Novak Djokovic's chances at the 2023 Australian Open.

Following his refusal to take a COVID-19 vaccination, Djokovic was deported from Australia in January 2022, just before the Australian Open began. The deportation also carried a three-year visa ban. However, in November, the Australian government overturned the three-year ban imposed on the former World No. 1.

According to former Australian Open tournament director Paul McNamee, the Serb is the "favorite" to win his record 10th title in Melbourne as he remains the "best player," especially on hard courts.

"He was the best player going in [last summer] and, on form, he is still the best player, especially on hardcourt, so he deserves to be favourite. I think winning 10 has a special ring to it. The only other man who’s won 10 [at a Grand Slam event] is Rafa at the French, so I think he’ll be going hard to get a 10th Australian Open, especially after last year," McNamee told The Age.

He also explained how Djokovic distinguished himself as a person of principle this year.

"I’m hoping he can get it. For me, he’s a person of principle. Not everyone agrees with what his position is, but he stands by his word and missed two grand slams this year. That’s a lot to miss when you’re one off winning the most grand slams, so I respect it and I hope he is well received," he said.

"Novak Djokovic certainly adds gravy and gravitas to the whole thing" - Paul McNamee

Novak Djokovic pictured at the 2022 ATP Finals.
Novak Djokovic pictured at the 2022 ATP Finals.

In the same interview, Paul McNamee supported Novak Djokovic's vaccination stance, stating it was his personal belief.

"People forget that he set up the COVID vaccination clinics in Serbia, and that his own son’s vaccinated. It’s just what he believes for him - but it’s obviously not what mainstream beliefs are, and fair enough. I’m vaccinated and it’s a personal choice," McNamee said.

The 68-year-old Australian then said the 21-time Grand Slam champion's presence will add "gravy" and "gravity" to the tournament.

"I think this is a great Australian Open to be looking forward to, and with the United Cup kicking off the season, I think we’re going to have a big summer. Novak certainly adds gravy and gravitas to the whole thing," he said.

The 2023 Australian Open will be played from January 16-29, with Rafael Nadal as the defending champion.

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Edited by Anirudh
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