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Novak Djokovic suffers injury scare ahead of Australian Open as he cuts short practice match

Novak Djokovic cuts short practice match with Daniil Medvedev due to hamstring twinge; 21-time Grand Slam champion hoping to win 10th Australian Open title with 2023 edition starting on January 16; Djokovic missed last year's major in Melbourne after being deported; Marin Cilic withdraws

Novak Djokovic tweaks hamstring in Melbourne (Associated Press)
Image: Novak Djokovic tweaked his hamstring while playing against Daniil Medvedev in Melbourne

Novak Djokovic suffered an injury scare ahead of the Australian Open with a hamstring twinge forcing him to cut short a practice match with Daniil Medvedev.

The 21-time Grand Slam champion, who missed last year's Australian Open after being deported due to his vaccination status, played just one set against Medvedev before withdrawing.

Djokovic lasted a little under 40 minutes on Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday, in what marked his first appearance in Melbourne since being forced to leave the country last year.

Serbia's Novak Djokovic reacts during the final of the Adelaide International tennis tournament against USA's Sebastian Korda in Adelaide, Australia, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Kelly Barnes)
Image: Djokovic won the Adelaide International 1 last week

The Serb, seeded No 4 for this month's major in Melbourne, initially tweaked his hamstring during his run to the Adelaide International 1 title last week.

Djokovic: I want to avoid bigger scares

Speaking to 9News Melbourne after withdrawing from his match with Medvedev, Djokovic said "I just felt it pulling and I didn't want to risk anything worse.

"I played a set and apologised to him [Medvedev] and he was understanding. I just want to avoid any bigger scares before the Australian Open."

Novak Djokovic (Associated Press)
Image: Djokovic has won the Australian Open nine times

Djokovic broke Medvedev in the opening game but then received treatment while leading 3-2 and won only one more game from that point.

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Djokovic's three-year visa ban was overturned in November, giving him the chance to push for a 10th Australian Open title when the major begins on January 16.

The 35-year-old has won 34 successive matches in Australia, with his previous defeat coming to South Korea's Hyeon Chung at the 2018 Australian Open.

Defending champion Rafa Nadal is the top seed at the 2023 Australian Open in the absence of injured world No 1 Carlos Alcaraz.

'Devastated' Cilic withdraws from Australian Open

Marin Cilic, runner-up to Roger Federer at the 2018 Australian Open, has withdrawn from this year's event through injury.

The Croatian, who was due to be the 17th seed, wrote on Twitter: "Not a great start to 2023 and few tough days in Melbourne. Devastated I can't play this year but health comes first. See you next year Melbourne."

Cilic, US Open champion in 2014, began his year at the Maharashtra Open in Pune, India but pulled out ahead of his quarter-final against Tallon Griekspoor after injuring his knee.

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