Six-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic's hopes of playing in Melbourne in two weeks have taken another hit after he withdrew from next week's Qatar Open due to an ongoing elbow injury.
Novak Djokovic plays a backhand in his third round match against Andreas Seppi during day five of the 2016 Australian Open at Melbourne Park.
The Serbian has been sidelined for the last six months due to the injury and pulled out of an exhibition match in Abu Dhabi yesterday when the right elbow injury flared up.
"Unfortunately, the situation with the elbow has not changed for the better since yesterday. I still feel the pain," Djokovic said in a statement.
"After the thorough consultations with the medical team, we decided to keep up with the therapies and elbow treatments."
It puts a further question mark on his participation in the Australian Open, which starts on January 15.
Djokovic hasn't played a match since his quarter-final exit at Wimbledon.
Other elite players also under an injury cloud are world No.1 Rafael Nadal, who withdrew from the Brisbane International, and Andy Murray, who will test a hip injury this weekend before deciding whether to play next week's ATP tournament in the Queensland capital.
Murray stepped in as Djokovic's replacement in Abu Dhabi and was beaten by Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2 in a one-set exhibition match.
Like Djokovic, Murray has not played a competitive match since Wimbledon.
Murray has given little away either about the precise nature of his hip injury or his recovery but delaying his departure to Australia, having originally intended to travel before Christmas, did not send a positive message.
"I felt better as it went on," the Scot said in an on-court interview broadcast by Eurosport.
"I was a little bit slow at the start. Roberto is one of the best players in the world and when you haven't competed at this level for a while it takes a long time to get back. I need to keep improving for sure."