Vasek Pospisil supported Novak Djokovic to win the Australian Open a year after the Serbian athlete failed to compete.
Djokovic’s participation in last year’s tournament was denied after he was detained and later deported at an immigration center in Melbourne for refusing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
The nine-time Australian Open champion is back for this year’s tournament, which begins Monday, as vaccine status is no longer a condition for entry into the country.
Djokovic played doubles for Pospisil in his Australian debut at Adelaide International 1 earlier this month, and speaking to Stats Perform, the Canadian tipped his close friend to travel to Melbourne.
“I hope he wins. I would definitely see him as the favourite,” said Pospisil. “If you have to pick one favourite, it’s hard to pick another.
“Having said that, there are so many great players and incredible talent coming together over the course of a week, anything can happen, right? It’s the sport, but I would definitely put him as a favorite and if I had a choice but for someone to win. I’d frankly take him for the championship. I would put it hopeful.
“Also, considering he’s had a rough year because of what happened in the past.”
However, Pospisil denied that the disappointment of missing last year will be a factor in Djokovic’s motivation to succeed this time.
“I think he’s already very motivated by his ambitions in sports and in life in general,” he added. “He’s obviously a very driven individual, you don’t need to hear it from me to know that, you can see it. I don’t think that would be an extra motivation.”
“I feel like he has maximum motivation every time he plays grand slam. I think he’s going to have a great year and I don’t think anything that has happened lately is going to negatively affect him.”
“I think he showed that with how he played at Wimbledon last year. [beating Nick Kyrgios in the final] he just talks about his character and how strong he is as an individual. It’s very, very impressive to be able to come back like this.”
Pospisil, who is ranked 94th in the world, is also confident about his future at the Australian Open: “Actually, I feel good. Last year I had a really strong finish.
“The last few months, I’ve had some [of time] I’m coming back from injury so it took some time to recover but I’m entering confidently, slowly building up my ranking and I’ve been really good preparation. [I am] I’m working really hard, I’m eating well and I feel like I’m ready to go.”
The 32-year-old drew with countryman Felix Auger Aliassime in the first round and appreciates his stint against the six-seeded who won three of four ATP titles in October 2022 before winning the Davis Cup with Pospisil. November.
“At the end of last year, I can say he was arguably the most fit player,” Pospisil said. “Four or five tournaments in a row and he beat the best players in the world. Obviously, the extremely talented young player, very physical.
“I know his game pretty well. So I’ve known him for years. He’s a Canadian and Davis Cup teammate.
“I have a lot of confidence in my abilities, so I feel like if I play well I can beat anyone on any day. Just because he’s playing so well these days, it’s going to be a tough question.”