Novak Djokovic has taken a significant step towards returning from elbow surgery after the Serbian posted a video of him practising for the first time since going under the knife earlier this month.
Djokovic, 12 times a grand slam champion and a former world number one, has since used social media to document his rehabilitation with one notable post on Instagram on 11 February stating he was "closer to holding a racket in my hands".
And that ambition has come to fruition this week with Djokovic posting a lengthy video on Instagram of him practicing at the Piatti Tennis Centre in south west Italy, just 15 miles along the Mediterranean coast from Monte-Carlo where he currently resides.
The video shows Djokovic playing a series of forehands, testing the elbow problem which forced him to miss the second half of the 2017 season.
It follows a picture posted by the venue themselves on Saturday [24 February] stating that Djokovic had chosen their courts "to start hitting again" in his bid to return to full fitness.
However, there is cause for concern for ardent Djokovic supporters with the right-hander seen practising with the same supportive sleeve which he wore through his failed campaign in Melbourne in January and which his dad Srdan said would no longer be used.
It is not yet certain whether the strapping is being worn as a precaution or if Djokovic continues to be plagued by discomfort in the area over three weeks since he first revealed he had undergone a minor procedure.
Whether the footage is a sign that Djokovic could be ready to return to the ATP Tour ahead of schedule remains to be seen, with his father having claimed he might not resume his season until the Madrid Masters in May.
Djokovic has been included on the player lists for the BNP Paribas Masters at Indian Wells and the Miami Open in March – the two events which make up the Sunshine Double – before the season moves to clay.
The Monte-Carlo Masters, taking place a stone's throw from Djokovic's place of residence, are expecting him to compete there in the first major event on the dirt this season and where the Davis Cup winner is twice a former champion in 2013 and 2015.
Yet a timeline regarding his return to the men's game is uncertain. Bar unofficial warm-up events prior to the Australian Open, Djokovic has played one competitive tournament since retiring from his Wimbledon quarter-final against Tomas Berdych last July and has already cascaded down the rankings to number 12 in the world.