Novak Djokovic has pulled out of the Qatar Open in Doha after failing to recover properly from an elbow injury that saw him miss the better part of 2017. The latest setback puts him in major doubt for the Australian Open starting next month.
The Serbian has not played competitive tennis since his loss in the quarter-finals at the 2017 Wimbledon and was expected to return to action at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship starting on 28 December but had to withdraw at the last moment. It was the first time in Djokovic's career that he had picked up a serious injury and the absence meant he dropped down to 12th in the world rankings.
The 30-year-old has made a host of changes behind the scenes to get back up to speed, bringing in tennis coach Radek Stepanek to assist Andre Agassi in his quest to recapture his form. However, the latest setback would come as a massive blow to his chances of starting 2018 on a high.
Rafael Nadal is another player who is feeling the exertions of 2017, having pulled out of the Brisbane International citing a knee injury. Meanwhile, Andy Murray has been drawn to play Ryan Harrison or Leonardo Mayer at the Brisbane event. Murray travelled to Australia after losing a one-set exhibition match against Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut.
"Unfortunately, the situation with the elbow has not changed for better since yesterday. I still feel the pain. Therefore, I will have to withdraw from ATP tournament in Doha, that has been voted the best 250 tournament in 2017. I am sorry that I will not be able to play in front of my fans here," Djokovic wrote on his official Facebook page.
"I have great memories of this tournament and the matches I played, like the final against Andy from last year. The atmosphere at the stadium is always wonderful, the organization is on the highest level, and I will surely miss it a lot. However, after the thorough consultations with the medical team, we decided to keep up with the therapies and elbow treatments."