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Sports

Novak Djokovic happy to be back after six-month break

media Novak Djokovic in Wimbledon Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

Serbian former number one and six-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic said on Saturday he was excited to play again after a long injury-enforced break, adding that he had missed the "fire and passion" of competitive tennis.

Djokovic’s elbow injury has been getting worse over the years, meaning he has been unable to compete.

But now, back on the court, he hopes his elbow will hold up thanks to the help of a restructured service action.

It got to the point where the pain on his serve was becoming unbearable, Djokovic said, with a sustained period of rest the only cure.

"It hasn't been 100 percent yet healed," Djokovic said. "But right now it's at the level where I can compete and every day is getting better."

"Throughout the tournament, I don't know how it's going to behave. Even if it's 100 percent healed, after six months of no competition, you never know how you're going to react."

Still confident

Despite slipping down the rankings and only being seeded 14 at the opening Grand Slam of the year, the Serb's confidence is high and he warned he could still go far.

"I still know what I'm capable of and I believe in my own abilities to win against the best players in the world," he said ahead of his opening-round clash against American Donald Young.

"I know that if I get myself to the desired level of performance - mental and physical - that I can actually have a good chance to go far in the tournament.

"Now, whether my approach is different to this year's Australian Open to other previous years, probably yes. It's different circumstances. But it is exciting. Honestly, it's a good place to be."

Inspired by Federer

The 12-time Grand Slam winner says he is taking inspiration from his old rival Roger Federer, who at 36 and after an injury absence in 2016 came back with all guns blazing last year, winning another two Grand Slams, including Australia.

"Roger and Rafa's year last year has shown age is just a number, especially in Roger's case," said Djokovic, who is 30.

"I mean, he's a great example of someone that manages to take care of himself, knows how to prepare well and peak at the right time."

Djokovic said that if it was up to him, he’d still be playing at 40.

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