World No.1 Novak Djokovic found playing without crowds last season strange and he can’t wait to fight for a record ninth Australian Open title in Melbourne when the ball gets rolling next Monday.
Some 25,000-30,000 fans will be admitted to Melbourne Park on each day of the grandslam and Djokovic got a taste of that on Friday when he played an exhibition match in Adelaide after coming out of quarantine.
“I had goosebumps coming into the court playing in front of the fans again after 12 months of not experiencing that.
“After playing professional tennis for more than 15 years, this is one of the biggest driving forces or motivations, inspirations that I have, playing in front of a crowd.
“Feeding off that energy, exchanging that great passion and joy that I have for the sport and the fans have for the sport.”
The 33-year-old has won eight of his 17 grandslam titles in Melbourne and said it felt like a homecoming returning at the start of each year.
He adds: “It does feel like a home for me in Australia, in Melbourne, particularly in Rod Laver [Arena]. That is by far my most successful tennis court in my career.
“Each year that I come back to the court, it feels even better. The more you win on the court, the more confident you feel coming back to it.”