Novak Djokovic played his first match since being deported from Australia ©Getty Images

Novak Djokovic beat Lorenzo Musetti in straight sets on what was the world number one's first competitive appearance since being deported from Australia over his COVID-19 vaccination status.

Djokovic comfortably won 6-3, 6-3 at the Dubai Tennis Championships in the United Arab Emirates before thanking the crowd.

"I couldn't ask for a better reception," Djokovic said following his opening match of 2022.

"It's been a while since I played the last match.

"I couldn't pick a better place to kickstart the season - it was the best possible experience tonight.

"All in all, it's a straight-sets win so of course I have to be satisfied, especially after not playing for two and a half, almost three months.

"There were moments I played great and moments where I made a couple of unforced errors in a row.

"It's normal to expect that for a first time in a while.

"But I'm glad I managed to finish the job tonight against a very talented player from Italy."

Lorenzo Musetti fell to a 6-3, 6-3 loss against world number one Novak Djokovic ©Getty Images
Lorenzo Musetti fell to a 6-3, 6-3 loss against world number one Novak Djokovic ©Getty Images

Italian Musetti did provide challenging moments for Djokovic, forcing him to face seven break points, but Djokovic survived each one.

The 34-year-old from Serbia beat his chest after one testing passage at the Association of Tennis Professionals 500 event, but when asked if it was directed at anyone in particular, Djokovic laughed it off.

"It's always in the heat of the battle, the atmosphere where you need to get that energy out," Djokovic said.

"Sometimes you are frustrated with yourself, your game, the things that are happening.

"You know it's important to re-group, get your things together and focus on the next point."

Djokovic was unable to play in last month's Australian Open after being deported from the country at the conclusion of a legal saga.

The 20-time Grand Slam singles champion had his visa cancelled by Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, citing "health and good order grounds".

Djokovic had initially been granted an exemption to defend his title despite being unvaccinated by Tennis Australia, with it claimed he had COVID-19 on December 16.

Despite his refusal to get inoculated, Djokovic told the BBC this month that he was "never against vaccination", but is still prepared to miss out on future trophies to maintain his current stance.

French politicians have indicated Djokovic will be unable to play at the second Grand Slam of the year, at Roland Garros, if he remains unvaccinated.