Novak Djokovic Staying Cautious Over Australian Open Participation

Novak Djokovic (zimbio.com)

Former world No.1 Novak Djokovic has admitted that it is not a foregone conclusion that he will play in the Australian Open as he continues to recover from an elbow injury.

The Serbian, who has won the Melbourne event six times, hasn’t played a tour match since Wimbledon. He was set to return to action last week at the Doha Open, but withdrew after experiencing pain in his elbow. Yesterday Djokovic played a duo of exhibition matches in what was a test of his current fitness. At the Kooyong Classic he defeated Dominic Thiem 6-4, 6-1. Then later in the day he participated in the Tie Break Tens competition, losing to Lleyton Hewitt in the first round.

Despite returning back to the practice courts more than a month ago, the 30-year-old admits that he is still not ‘100 per cent.’ Openly admitting that there remains a possibility that he could withdraw from the Australian Open if his elbow deteriorates.

“I’m still not 100 per cent. I’m moving towards 100 per cent. Hopefully in three or four days I will be there,” he told the Australian Associated Press on Thursday.
“I played better than I thought might happen (on Wednesday) and most importantly I played without pain.
“It was a great test for me to see where I am, to see how I feel, to hear the score being called and feel the pressure of break points.”

There were visible signs of rustiness in Djokovic’s game during his two exhibition matches. An expected occurrence for a player that has been absent for so long. He now plays with a different service motion. Conducting a shorter take-back to relieve the pressure applied onto his elbow.

Taking a day-by-day approach to his comeback, Djokovic admits that the prospect of playing in his 52nd grand main draw is one that excites him. For the moment title chances are not on his mind. Instead his goal is to be able to play on the main stage of tennis.

“I’ll be over the moon if I can play, which I’m planning to. For now everything at the moment is going in the right direction,” he said.
“I’m taking it on a day-by-day basis and doing everything I possibly can.
“Doctors here and back home are working with me.
“If I got to play the way I did yesterday against the number five in the world … I’m happy with that.”

If he plays, Djokovic will be seeded 14th in next week’s Australian Open. His lowest seeding since 2007.

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