Novak Djokovic extended his absence from the tennis court by pulling out of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi due to an elbow problem. In his place, Andy Murray will play an exhibition match against Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut. Djokovic has been sidelined with an elbow injury ever since Wimbledon and was expected to return for the event with hopes of playing “pain-free”.
Murray, like Djokovic, has also not played since Wimbledon while recovering from a hip injury. He landed in Abu Dhabi to practice before moving on to Australia ahead of the first Grand Slam of the year on January 15. Murray will take on Bautista Agut on Friday evening.
“I am terribly disappointed that I am forced to withdraw from the Mubadala World Tennis Championship. Unfortunately, in the past few days I started to feel pain in the elbow and after several tests, my medical team has advised me not to risk anything, to withdraw from the tournament and to immediately continue with the therapies,” Djokovic said in a statement on his official website.
“I am very sad because I was eager to return to playing official matches. I enjoyed the practices and everything I did to get ready for the start of the season, including the tournament in Abu Dhabi, where I always enjoy playing. Now I need to accept this situation, and to wait for the results of the therapies, in order to start playing tennis again and getting back to full rhythm. This might affect the start of the season and the tournament plan, but the decision will be made in the following days.”
Djokovic is scheduled to play at the Qatar Open in Doha next week but his participation now looks bleak. Murray, too, is still not in 100 per cent shape with his first tournament back scheduled to be the Brisbane Open. Another top contender for the Slam – Rafael Nadal – too is suffering from injury concerns having already pulled out of Abu Dhabi and then Brisbane.