Novak Djokovic has sparked fears that he might miss the Australian Open due to a hamstring issue which has hampered his preparations for the tournament.
The Serbian is due to the start his campaign at Melbourne Park by taking on World No.75 Roberto Carballes Baena tomorrow morning. However, the 21-time Grand Slam champion has cancelled his practice session for the second day running.
Djokovic continues to be hampered by the injury which he suffered at the Adelaide International earlier this month. The World No.5 has won nine Australian Open titles and if he can clinch victory again this year he would match Rafael Nadal's record of 22 major crowns.
The Serbian had eased injury worries by playing in a sold-out exhibition match against Nick Kyrgios on Friday. However, he told reporters at the weekend that he continues to be impacted by the hamstring issue.
"Well, I've been struggling with that a bit, to be honest, the last seven days," Djokovic said. "But it's hopefully not the major concern. So far, I've been able to train, compete and play points, practice sets. So that's a positive sign.
"Obviously, I'm being a bit more cautious. I'm not going full out on the training sessions, conserving the energy for next week. Hopefully, it won't cause an issue for me then."
Kyrgios has since pulled out of the Australian Open due to a knee injury - a decision which has left the home favourite 'devastated'.
Djokovic also pulled out midway through a practice hit with Daniil Medvedev last week and tournament organisers confirmed that the Serbian had cancelled his scheduled practice session for today.
During his practice match with Medvedev the Serbian was seen repeatedly massaged by his physio and stretched the troubled hamstring. Djokovic stayed for less than half of the allotted practice time and pulled out after losing the first set 6-4 in 36 minutes.
"I just want to avoid any bigger scares before the Australian Open," Djokovic told 9News Melbourne after the session. "I just felt it pulling and I didn't want to risk anything worse. . .I played a set and apologised to [Medvedev] and he was understanding."
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The former No.1 returns to Melbourne Park after missing last year’s event due to being unvaccinated against Covid-19. After being detained on his entry to Australia and having his visa cancelled on two separate occasions, the Serbian star was deported and forced to watch the tournament from home.
Djokovic faced some critics for the visa saga and his non-vaccination status. Tournament organisers have warned any spectators who plan to heckle or boo the star that they will be removed from the stadium.