Novak Djokovic has admitted his return to the tennis circuit could be short-lived, after a first-round victory over Italian teenager Lorenzo Musetti at the Dubai Championships.

The world No.1 lost the first two points but then won many more than he lost as he emerged victorious in his first match of 2022, following his deportation from Australia.

Watch the rapturous scenes in the video above

Djokovic had not played since the Davis Cup finals in early December 2021.

On the only previous occasion the pair met, at Roland Garros last year, Musetti took a two-set lead with successive tie-break successes.

Djokovic then won 16 of the next 17 games before an exhausted Musetti retired at 0-4 in the final set.

Novak Djokovic celebrates after winning his return match in Dubai.
Novak Djokovic celebrates after winning his return match in Dubai. Credit: Getty

The 19-year-old wildcard went for his shots again in Dubai, showing no fear as he went toe-to-toe with the Serbian champion, but Djokovic cruised to a 6-3 6-3 win in 73 minutes.

He could face Australia’s Alex de Minaur, who meets Karen Khachanov on Tuesday night, in the second round.

Djokovic said he was a little rusty at times, but ‘that is to be expected’, and he ‘very much enjoyed’ being in front of a crowd again.

He added: “I couldn’t ask for a better reception. I couldn’t pick a better place to kick-start the season. All in all it was a very pleasant experience for me.”

The Serb, wearing a green-and-white combo, had been cheered onto court and had plenty of support under the lights with some spectators waving flags bearing his likeness and the slogan ‘Stand with Novak’.

The five-time former winner had no problems getting into the emirate despite being the only player in the men’s top 100 unvaccinated against COVID-19.

The jab is not needed for visitors to Dubai but his return to the tour appears set to be short-lived.