Novak Djokovic is unsure if he'll be ready for the Australian Open after a lingering elbow injury forced him to withdraw from the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi on Friday.
Djokovic, who has won 12 Grand Slam titles, has been absent from the ATP Tour for the past six months and was due to play an exhibition match against Roberto Bautista Agut on Friday.
"I am terribly disappointed that I am forced to withdraw from the Mubadala World Tennis Championship," Djokovic said in a statement released Friday morning. "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."
Tournament organizers replaced Djokovic with British No. 1 Andy Murray, who lost 6-2 to Bautista Agut in an exhibition match.
Although Djokovic did not reveal how long he would be sidelined for, he raised questions about whether he would be fit to take part in the Australian Open when it starts on Jan. 15.
"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," he said. "This might affect the start of the season and the tournament plan, but the decision will be made in the following days."
On the advice of his medical team, @DjokerNole has had to withdraw from the Mubadala World Tennis Championship. 3-time Grand Slam Champion @andy_murray has agreed to play an exhibition match against @BautistaAgut at 7 pm! We wish Novak a speedy recovery. pic.twitter.com/4HiJ0sDahA— MWTC (@MubadalaTennis) December 29, 2017
Djokovic hasn't played competitively since he retired in the Wimbledon quarterfinals because of the elbow injury. He is entered in the Qatar Open, where he's the defending two-time champion. That tournament begins Monday.
Murray is looking to make a comeback from injury and practiced for 90 minutes on the Abu Dhabi practice courts.
Murray was forced to bring his competitive season to an early conclusion shortly after withdrawing from the US Open. He slipped to 16th in the world rankings during his absence from the ATP Tour.
The three-time Grand Slam winner has long highlighted next week's Brisbane International tournament for his official return to competitive action as he looks to reach full fitness ahead of the Australian Open.