Having been ready to face world No. 1, and his fellow countryman, Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open, Miomir Kecmanovic says his aim at the competition is to “avenge” Djokovic’s deportation from Australia.
The 22-year-old eased into the second round with a straight sets win over Italy’s Salvatore Caruso, in a match which lasted less than two hours.
Speaking after their clash, Kecmanovic assessed the challenge he faced in the match by saying: “It was a little bit difficult, but I don’t think it was as difficult as Novak had it the last two weeks.”
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Djokovic has been unable to defend his title in Melbourne after being deported from Australia following his prolonged appeal to stay in the country.
“It was really unfortunate and really terrible what happened to him," Kecmanovic said.
"Even though I’m happy that I was able to win today, I still feel really bad for him and that we didn’t get to play our match."
Kecmanovic said he had spoken with the other Serbian players in the draw and they had vowed to honour Djokovic.
“It was hard not to talk about that topic since it was happening right before our matches, especially with me supposed to play him also,” he said at his post-match press conference.
“We said we were going to give everything we have, try to avenge him in a way and make him proud.
“I know he is [the] best representative, so it is definitely a shame that he is not able to participate and represent Serbia, but we are going to give the best that we can and hopefully make up for it in some way.”
Djokovic has since returned to Serbia and Kecmanovic says he’s been doing his best to stay in touch with his friend and Davis Cup teammate.
“I sent him a few messages also, just to see how he was doing, how he’s handling everything. It wasn’t easy for him, so I know I couldn’t do much,” he said.
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There are reports that Djokovic could also miss out on Roland Garros after the French government said athletes must be vaccinated to play.
As for Kecmanovic, he’ll face American player Tommy Paul in the second round in Melbourne, and he has made it clear that he’s not just playing for himself, but for Djokovic also, who he says he wants to “make proud”.
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