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Djokovic to end six-month injury hiatus at Kooyong Classic

Posted on January 4, 2018

Twelve-time Grand Slam winner Novak Djokovic will return to the court for his first competitive match in 181 days at the 2018 Priceline Pharmacy Kooyong Classic, as he looks to put a long-time elbow injury behind him.

An elite group of players from the world top ten will put on a show for fans in the 30th anniversary edition of the pre-Australian Open event commencing next Tuesday.

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The men’s draw is led by defending two-time Kooyong champion David Goffin (Belgium) who made the final of the ATP Tour Finals after defeating Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

Those wins took the Belgian to number seven in the ATP rankings, just behind world No. 5 and 2017 Wimbledon finalist Marin Cilic (Croatia) and world No. 6 Dominic Thiem (Austria), who are also playing at Kooyong.

Pablo Carreno Busta from Spain is the fourth top-ten man in the Kooyong draw, which also features big-serving South African Kevin Anderson who comes to Melbourne after making the final of the 2017 US Open.

The event also includes a women’s competition headed by Australian teenager Destanee Aiava and Switzerland’s former world number seven Belinda Bencic who is currently in action with Roger Federer at the Hopman Cup.

Djokovic will play two matches at Kooyong, as the 30-year-old does all he can to ready himself for the upcoming Australian Open, a tournament 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 recently withdrew from events in Abu Dhabi and Qatar to concentrate on rehabbing the right elbow that forced him to retire in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon last year.

“Novak has obviously needed to change his schedule to give himself every chance to be 100 percent fit by day one of the Australian Open,” tournament director Peter Johnston said.

“Hopefully the two matches at Kooyong will provide the right preparation for him.

“It’s certainly going to be a real treat for the fans to welcome him back to the Kooyong Classic.”

Currently ranked No. 12 in the world, the Serbian 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.

His record at Melbourne Park is tremendous with three consecutive wins from 2011-13, joining Jack Crawford and Roy Emerson as they only players to notch a three-peat down under.

Djokovic is one of three members of tennis’ all-conquering Big Four, along with Roger Federer and Andy Murray, that have played at the historical venue that is celebrating its 30th anniversary since local legend Pat Cash won in 1988.  Djokovic played in both the 2010 and 2014 Kooyong events. 

2018 Priceline Pharmacy Kooyong Classic men’s field:

Player Country ATP Ranking
Marin Cilic Croatia 5
Dominic Thiem Austria 6
David Goffin Belgium 7
Pablo Carreno Busta Spain 10
Novak Djokovic Serbia 12
Kevin Anderson South Africa 14
Richard Gasquet France 31
Yoshihito Nishioka Japan 67
Matthew Ebden Australia 76


2018 Priceline Pharmacy Kooyong Classic women’s draw:

Player Country Age WTA Ranking Highest Rank
Belinda Bencic Switzerland 20 98 7
Andrea Petkovic Germany 30 99 9
Destanee Aiava Australia 17 154 147

Over the years, fans have enjoyed world-class tennis while being able to get up close to the stars of the show thanks to the intimate nature of the historical boutique venue.
 
That experience will be enhanced even further in 2018 with the grass outside courts at Kooyong transformed into the Kooyong Common fan zone – the perfect place to relax on a summer’s day.
 
“The 2018 Priceline Pharmacy Kooyong Classic is shaping up to be a ‘must see’ part of the Australian Summer of tennis in January,” Priceline Pharmacy CEO and Managing Director, Richard Vincent said.
 
“It’s a world class player field and we love to see that the women will again be part of the event.”

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