6-time champion Djokovic unsure of playing Australian Open


Novak Djokovic is still not sure whether he will be able to play in the Australian Open, where he has won six of his 12 major championships.

Djokovic has been dealing with pain in his right elbow. A statement posted on his website on Wednesday says he will travel to Australia to participate in two exhibition events there next week.

After that, the statement says, "the decision will be made about his participation at the first Grand Slam of the season."

Djokovic, who is right-handed, cited the elbow problem on Dec. 30, when he withdrew from this week's Qatar Open, a hard-court tuneup tournament for the Australian Open.

That was supposed to be the 30-year-old Serb's final competitive preparation before play begins in Melbourne on Jan. 15.

He previously pulled out of a United Arab Emirates exhibition tournament.

Djokovic hasn't played in any tournament since retiring from his match in the Wimbledon quarterfinals in July because of the elbow injury. At the time, he acknowledged that his right arm had been bothering him for more than a year but that he had decided against having surgery.

The extended absence dropped the former No. 1 player to No. 12 in the current ATP rankings.

Djokovic is hardly alone when it comes to high-profile men's tennis players dealing with injuries as the new season begins.

Top-ranked Rafael Nadal, the runner-up to Roger Federer at the Australian Open last year, withdrew from this week's Brisbane International tuneup tournament because of a bothersome right knee. Nadal won the French Open and U.S. Open in 2017 to raise his major count to 16.

Three-time major champion Andy Murray, meanwhile, also pulled out of the Brisbane International and is considering having an operation because of a bad hip. Like Djokovic, he last competed at Wimbledon, nearly six months ago.

Since winning his fourth consecutive Grand Slam title at the 2016 French Open — becoming the first man in nearly a half-century with four in a row — Djokovic has made it past the quarterfinals at only one of the past six major tournaments, finishing as the runner-up at the 2016 U.S. Open.

A year ago at the Australian Open, as the two-time defending champion, he bowed out in the second round against 117th-ranked Denis Istomin, the first time Djokovic exited so early at any major in nearly a decade.

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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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More AP tennis coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Tennis


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