Novak Djokovic in freak injury scare as court barrier falls

Novak Djokovic crouches in pain after a barrier crashed onto his legs in Perth, Australia.  Picture: Getty Images
Novak Djokovic crouches in pain after a barrier crashed onto his legs in Perth, Australia. Picture: Getty Images
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Novak Djokovic yesterday shook off jetlag to beat Andreas Seppi 6-3, 6-4 to help Serbia beat Italy 2-1 at the Hopman Cup then narrowly avoided injury after the match when a courtside barrier collapsed while signing autographs.

Djokovic was signing autographs when the divider fell. It hit the Serb on his legs as it crashed and several fans went tumbling to the ground. Djokovic briefly squatted in discomfort but later took to the court for the mixed doubles, won by Italy 7-6 (4), 6-4.

“It was a bit of a shock and I’m glad that the children involved are OK. I am fine,” said Djokovic, who was more concerned about his condition pre-match because of fatigue from jetlag.

Djokovic arrived in Perth less than 24 hours before he stepped on court, but still had a straight-sets win to add to Ana Ivanovic’s 6-0, 6-4 victory over Francesca Schiavone, giving Serbia a win in the group-stage of the mixed teams event.

“I arrived quite late last night and didn’t get long hours of sleep and felt this morning like I’m dream-walking,” Djokovic said. “But as the match went on I was managing to get my rhythm. I broke the ice after the first set and felt a little bit better.”

Djokovic got off to a good start to lead 2-0, but he later struggled to hold for 5-2. In the second set a double-fault gave Djokovic a break to lead 3-2, but he again struggled to maintain his lead and had to fight off four break points at 4-3 before completing his victory.

Earlier, Ivanovic faced the challenge of two break points in the opening game and it took her five break points to establish a 2-0 lead, but then she looked aggressive and confident as she swept through the remainder of the first set.

Schiavone took 36 minutes to win her first game and hold for 1-1 in the second set, and the Italian then offered a stronger challenge.

“It’s been an amazing start [to the season],” Ivanovic said. “That first game was a bit crucial but I managed to hold after saving a few break points and then I really got into the momentum and didn’t do too much wrong in that first set.

“The second set got tougher. She started playing better, Ivanovic added. “I still tried to be aggressive and I’m really happy I managed to win today.”

Today, the American team of John Isner and Venus Williams will take on Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Mathilde Johansson of France.

Russian Nikolay Davydenko, the 2010 champion and 2011 runner-up, defeated Victor Hanescu 6-2, 6-3 yesterday in 75 minutes at the Qatar Exxon Mobil Open.

The former world No 3, currently ranked 44, said that he is looking to recapture the form that saw him battling out at the upper echelons of the sport.

“Last season, I told everyone from my family and my brother, ‘I will like push myself,’” he told the ATP website. “I want to again. I want to try [this] season to play again and practise concentration, try to do [what] I can, because I’m already not so young. Maybe I have two more years, maybe one more year.” Two Italians, Simone Bolelli and Paolo Lorenzi, also got their 2013 ATP Tour seasons off to a winning start with victories over Spaniards. Bolelli withstood 13 aces to beat Daniel Gimeno-Traver 6-3, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (2) and Lorenzi defeated Albert Ramos 7-6(4), 6-1.

Sixth-seeded Dutchman Robin Haase and eighth-seeded Go Soeda of Japan progressed to the second round of the Chennai Open with straight-set wins yesterday.

Haase overcame the challenge of local wild card Yuki Bhambri 7-5, 6-3 while last year’s semifinalist Soeda defeated unheralded Russian Evegeny Donskoy 6-1, 6-2.

In other matches, Frenchman Eduardo Roger-Vasselin defeated Russian Andrey Kuznetsov 6-3, 6-4 and Aljaze Bedene of Slovenia knocked out Portugal’s Joao Sousa 6-3, 6-2.

Meanwhile, the four qualifiers advancing to the main draw were Rubens Bemmelmans of Belgium, Cedrik-Marcel Steebe of Germany, Rajeev Ram of the United States and Prakash Amritraj of India.