First Mubadala, now Djokovic pulls out of Qatar Open with elbow injury

Doubts over whether Serb will be fit to take part in Australian Open in January

FILE - In this Wednesday, July 26, 2017 file photo, tennis player Novak Djokovic pauses during a press conference in Belgrade, Serbia. Novak has withdrawn from the Mubadala WTC exhibition event due to pain in his right elbow. The Serbian star was scheduled to return to tennis on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 after being out of the game for nearly six months.(Andrej Isakovic, Pool Photo via AP, File)

Twenty-four hours after pulling out of his semi-final match at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship with an elbow injury, former world No 1 Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from next week’s Qatar Open, casting doubt on his participation at the Australian Open later in January.

A persistent elbow injury that has sidelined Djokovic for over six months saw him withdraw from his MWTC semi-final match with Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut hours before they were due on court on Friday on the advice of his medical team.

The 12-time grand slam champion was top seed in Doha, but in a statement he said he would not be able to defend the title he won by beating Andy Murray last year.

"Unfortunately, the situation with the elbow has not changed for the better since yesterday,"  Djokovic said.

"I still feel the pain. Therefore, I will have to withdraw from [the] ATP tournament in Doha."


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The Serb added: "Only when I'm 100 per cent ready to play, I will be able to come back.

"I hope it will be soon. I want to thank everyone for patience and understanding."

The latest announcement raises fresh doubts over Djokovic's long-term future and more immediately his availability for the first grand sam of the season, the Australian Open, which begins on January 15.

Austria's world No 5 Dominic Thiem, who was beaten by South Africa's Kevin Anderson in Friday's only MWTC semi-final to take place, has now been made the Qatar Open top seed.