Abu Dhabi - Former world number one and 12-time Grand Slam
champion Novak Djokovic withdrew from the Mubadala World Tennis Championship on
Friday with elbow pain to raise fresh doubts over his fitness.
The 30-year-old Serbian star had targeted Abu Dhabi for his
first match since his quarter-finals loss at Wimbledon in July this year.
Djokovic was scheduled to play Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut
in the semi-finals of the exhibition tournament at 1900 local time.
But four hours before that, Djokovic released a statement on
his website announcing his intention. It is not clear still if he will play the
Qatar Open where he is top seed next week.
"I am terribly disappointed that I am forced to
withdraw from the Mubadala World Tennis Championship," Djokovic said in
"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."
He added: "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. This might affect the start of the season and
the tournament plan, but the decision will be made in the following days."
The organisers have now put together a match between another
former world No 1, Britain's Andy Murray, and Bautista-Agut at the same time.
Murray also hasn't played a match since his loss at
Wimbledon to Sam Querrey.
He had been suffering from a hip injury and was spotted in
Abu Dhabi on Thursday practicing with his coaching team.
The second semi-final of the tournament is between world No
5 Dominic Thiem of Austria and world No 14 Kevin Anderson of South Africa.
On Saturday, prior to the men's final, former women's No 1
and 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams will make her return to court
with an exhibition match against the reigning French Open champion, Jelena
Williams has not played since winning the Australian Open
because of pregnancy and the birth of her first child in September.