Novak Djokovic suffers injury scare on eve of Australian Open

Scare: Novak Djokovic  (Getty Images)
Scare: Novak Djokovic (Getty Images)

Australian Open favourite Novak Djokovic suffered an injury scare on his competitive return to Melbourne a year after being deported.

Djokovic is bidding for a 10th Australian Open title when the tournament gets underway next week.

But he pulled out of his exhibition match against Daniil Medvedev after just one set today with an injury that first flared up at last week’s Adelaide International.

The 35-year-old needed medical timeouts and ongoing on-court treatment on his left leg. He had been due to play for 75 minutes but pulled out after losing the first set 6-4 to his Russian rival in just 36 minutes.

The injury setback casts doubt over his full fitness for Monday’s Australian Open, the draw for which takes place in Melbourne tomorrow.

The issue for the 21-time Grand Slam champion first arose when also playing against Medvedev in the semi-final of the Adelaide International last week.

It needed medical treatment at the time but he recovered to win the pair’s semi-final in straight sets before lifting the title with a tight three-set victory over Seb Korda.

Following his withdrawal today, Djokovic was replaced on court by Spain’s Pablo Andujar in taking on Medvedev.

As well as the Australian Open, Serbian Djokovic is also scheduled to play Nick Kyrgios in an exhibition match on Friday, with the near-15,000 capacity venue selling out in under an hour when tickets went on sale a few days ago.

Djokovic has enjoyed a warm reception on his return to Australian soil following the controversy of his exit 12 months ago.

He had arrived Down Under in the belief that he could circumnavigate strict Covid rules, despite the fact he had not been vaccinated against it, having recently had the virus.

A lengthy and acrimonious legal case resulted in him losing his right to stay on Australian soil to compete at the Australian Open, which also equated to a three-year ban from the country.

That was subsequently overturned and he was given the all-clear to return to Australia in the build-up to the first Grand Slam of the year.