Melbourne, January 11: Former world number one Novak Djokovic hinted he could still pull out of the Australian Open as he battles to be fully fit for the year's opening Grand Slam.
A six-time Australian Open champion, Djokovic wore a compression sleeve on his troublesome right elbow in his long-awaited return to the tennis court on Wednesday.
Djokovic – who was forced to skip the Mubadala World Tennis Championship and the Qatar Open, having not played competitively since withdrawing from the quarter-finals of Wimbledon in July – blitzed Dominic Thiem 6-1, 6-4 in his comeback at the Kooyong Classic before losing to retired Australian Lleyton Hewitt in the Tie Break Tens exhibition event later on Wednesday.
It was a welcome sight for Australian Open organisers and fans following the withdrawals of five-time runner-up Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori as well as 23-time slam winner Serena Williams on the women's side, but Djokovic insisted he is still not 100 per cent fit with the tournament set to get underway on Monday.
"I'll be over the moon if I can play, which I'm planning to. For now everything at the moment is going in the right direction," the Serbian star said on Thursday. "I'm taking it on a day-by-day basis and doing everything I possibly can.
"Doctors here and back home are working with me. If I got to play the way I did yesterday against the number five in the world ... I'm happy with that."
Djokovic continued: "I'm still not 100 per cent. I'm moving towards 100 per cent. Hopefully in three or four days I will be there," he said on Thursday.
"I played better than I thought might happen and most importantly I played without pain.
"It was a great test for me to see where I am, to see how I feel, to hear the score being called and feel the pressure of break points."