Djokovic skips another tournament, elbow still not right

FILE - This is a Wednesday, July 12, 2017 file photo of Serbia's Novak Djokovic as he gestures during a press conference after losing his Men's Singles Quarterfinal Match against Czech Republic's Tomas Berdych on day nine at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London. Novak has withdrawn from the Mubadala WTC exhibition event due to pain in his right elbow. The Serbian star was scheduled to return to tennis on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 after being out of the game for nearly six months. (AELTC, Joe Toth/File via AP)

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Novak Djokovic withdrew from another tournament on Saturday, this time his final warm-up event for the Australian Open, saying he still has pain in his right elbow and isn't sure when he will return to action.

The elbow problem forced Djokovic to withdraw from an exhibition tournament in United Arab Emirates on Friday. The 30-year-old Serb said Saturday his elbow had not improved and he was going to miss next week's Qatar Open.

The tournament in Qatar, where Djokovic is the two-time defending champion, was the last on his schedule before the Australian Open starts on Jan. 15.

"Unfortunately, the situation with the elbow has not changed for (the) better since yesterday. I still feel the pain," Djokovic said in a statement.

"Only when I'm 100% ready to play, I will be able to come back. I hope it will be soon. I want to thank everyone for (their) patience and understanding."

Djokovic will continue with treatment to his elbow after consulting with his medical team, he said. He didn't say what his plans were for the Australian Open in Melbourne, where he has won six of his 12 Grand Slam titles and where he claimed back-to-back titles in 2015-16.

Djokovic hasn't played a competitive match since he retired in this year's Wimbledon quarterfinals because of the elbow injury. He was scheduled to meet Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain in the semifinals of the exhibition event in UAE on Friday, his first match in nearly five months.

Djokovic won three Grand Slam titles in 2015 and another two in 2016, but his performances slipped this year. He was upset in the second round of the Australian Open by No. 117 Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan and went out in the quarterfinals of the French Open. He retired in the last eight at Wimbledon and missed the U.S. Open in an attempt to recover from his elbow injury.

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