MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 10:  Novak Djokovic of Serbia plays a forehand against Dominic Thiem of Austria in the 2018 Kooyong Classic at Kooyong on January 10, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Djokovic blows past Thiem, eyes Open start after Kooyong win

Posted on January 10, 2018

Novak Djokovic is confident that he can play well at the Australian Open next week following his first competitive match in 181 days at the 2018 Priceline Pharmacy Kooyong Classic on Wednesday.

The 12-time Grand Slam winner defeated world No. 5 Dominic Thiem convincingly 6-1 6-4 in his first time playing on court since retiring during the quarterfinals at Wimbledon last year due to a chronic elbow injury.

Sporting a compression sleeve on his right arm the 30-year-old looked relatively sharp against the Austrian who has been battling his own preparation troubles before the Open with sickness.

“It feels great, obviously I was waiting for this moment for six months to play a match,” Djokovic told a large scrum of reporters after the match.

“Also, I got a great opponent today ranked five in the world, it was a fantastic test for me to see where I am, to see what we have done as a team in the off-season and whether it works on the court.

“It worked pretty well, especially the serve which was the biggest question mark because of the elbow, that shot in my game was compromised prior to July when I had to stop in Wimbledon.”

At this stage Djokovic will play at the opening Grand Slam of the season, one that he has won five times in the last seven years after claiming his first crown at Melbourne Park in 2008.

The former world No. 1, who recently withdrew from events in Abu Dhabi and Qatar to concentrate on rehabbing the right elbow, will be more than keen to start 2018 without further injury problems after 2017 became the first year without him winning a major title since 2010.

“I don’t want to be overconfident and obviously I’m very happy with the way it went today,” Djokovic added.

“But I don’t want to say it’s 100 per cent, I’ll say that when I start a tournament and I actually feel that it is 100 per cent.”

He will play a Tie Break Tens match tonight at Melbourne Park and is pencilled in to contest another match at Kooyong this week.

“Look I think it is (enough preparation),” Djokovic said.

“Obviously, it’s the first time in my career I’ve had such a long break and it would be ideal if I had another tournament under my belt before coming out to Australia, but I haven’t had a chance.

“But I’m going to take whatever I can.

“I’m going to get as much competitive play, practice sets, and I’ll continue to do so until it starts.”

Thiem was pleased to come up against such a top player in Djokovic and reported that his health had made significant improvement since withdrawing from the Qatar Open before the semi-finals last week.

“I’m fine, I’m free of fever and healthy again so everything is fine,” Thiem said.

“It was just a virus from Doha, it was fever and throat pain.

“I’m still pretty jetlagged because of the virus I only arrived on Monday night here and I was a little bit slow at the beginning.

“Hopefully by the latest on Friday I’ll be fine.”

The 24-year-old from Austria who is ranked number five in the world will also be playing Tie Break Tens tonight as he looks to regain match fitness before the Australian Open.

“It was nice to play Novak, and with the same conditions like at Melbourne Park,” he added.

“For him it was his first match for a very long time and for me after being sick a little bit so it was a good test for both of us.

“Well he is one of the best players ever, so he can still play tennis, I’m not surprised how he played.”

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