One year after his controversial deportation from Australia, Novak Djokovic is back in the country and will take part in the Australian Open again at Melbourne Park. This year, the Serb has no problems with the Border Patrol Force or his visa, and is all set to fight for his 10th title at the Melbourne Major.

But the scars of the deportation still remain with the 21-time Grand Slam champion one year on, who sat down with Channel Nine on Wednesday to explain his side of the debacle in detail once more.

Straight off the bat, the former World No. 1 made it clear that he did not attempt to enter Australia by any nefarious means, declaring that he was just following the rules and that his medical exemption was approved by an independent body.

“A lot of people still have a wrong idea of what happened. [There were] two or three more people that came into Australia 10 days before I did with exactly the same exemption that I had,” Djokovic said. “I was just following the rules. My exemption was verified by an independent body and panel of doctors.”

Even though the World No. 5 came in with all the valid papers, his entry was eventually barred by then Immigration Minster Alex Hawke, who was of the opinion that Djokovic’s entry would give rise to anti-vax sentiments Down Under and vetoed a Federal Court ruling allowing him passage.

Speaking in the interview, the 35-year-old admitted that things “got out of hand,” helped in no small part by the media, and that he did not want to fight. Given the amount of pressure he had, the Serb recalled just wanting to leave Australia and get back home.

“I came in with all the valid papers. Everything got out of hand and then I was labelled this or that. And it [the saga] was so big in the media that I could not fight that, and I didn’t want to get into that,” Djokovic said. “[With] the amount of pressure and craziness going around, I just wanted to go out and go back home.”

Getting back to Serbia was not enough for Novak Djokovic to escape the spotlight as well, with the international media continuously spinning a not-so-great narrative about him everywhere.

“The first several months after I came back … I went back to Serbia … going through a little bit of challenging times I must say, not just with Australian media, but media worldwide,” Djokovic said. “It was a lot of pressure and not great narrative in the media about me at all.”

“The traces followed for several months after” – Novak Djokovic on how the deportation saga affected him mentally

Novak Djokovic revealed during the interview that the “traces” of what he went through in Australia stuck with him for a long time, affecting his game, and himself mentally, for several months after.

“I just stayed for several weeks at home, didn’t really go around too much, just hoped that the situation would calm down, which it did. But the ‘traces’ stay there, right?” he said. “The traces followed for several months after. And I didn’t know it was going to affect my game as well.”

The 21-time Grand Slam champion recalled how every press conference of his afterwards had a couple of questions about Australia, reminding him over and over again of what he went through. Thankfully, the Serb understood what he had to do to get out of this situation — be patient and wait it out.

“Every press conference I was asked a question or two about Australia, about what happened,” Djokovic said. “So even if I [had] moved on the people reminded me of that. I just had to be patient and wait.”