Andy Murray will play an exhibition match against Roberto Bautista Agut today after Novak Djokovic withdrew from the Mubadala World Tennis Championship.
Former world number one Djokovic confirmed his long-awaited comeback is now in doubt because of his shoulder injury.
The Serbian 12-time Grand Slam winner hasn’t played since Wimbledon, when he faced Tomas Berdych in July. He had been expected to make a return to playing in Abu Dhabi.
However, in a statement, Djokovic said: “I am terribly disappointed that I am forced to withdraw from the Mubadala World Tennis Championship.
“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.
“I am very sad because I was eager to return to playing official matches. I enjoyed the practices and everything I did to get ready for the start of the season, including the tournament in Abu Dhabi, where I always enjoy playing.
“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.“
Djokovic conceded that his injury may affect the start of the season and his tournament plans but added: “The decision will be made in the following days.”
According to the BBC, Andy Murray will take Djokovic’s place in the tournament, and is set to play Spaniard Bautista Agut, ranked 20th in the world, on the MWTC courts at 7pm local time on Friday.
Djokovic’s withdrawal comes barely 24 hours after Rafael Nadal was forced to pull out of the Brisbane International through injury.