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It’s a time-honored Novak Djokovic tradition: chocolates for the media on the first and last press conference of the year. Last year we were at Djokovic’s last press conference at Wimbledon and it wasn’t a happy one (no chocolates, and a retirement against Tomas Berdych that eventually meant the end of his season). This year, with renewed hope, Djokovic returns.


The No.14 seed in this year’s tournament, Djokovic will begin his comeback with a first-round matchup with American Donald Young. If successful he could face Gael Monfils in the second round. It’s a difficult draw for a player that has been away from the sport for six months, but Djokovic is in a good place and will take each challenge as it comes.

He’ll try out is revamped serve for the first time in a competitive match, after spending several months retooling his game with coaches Radek Stepanek and Andre Agassi.

“So far it's been working really well,” he told reporters on Saturday after handing out his chocolates. “I had only Kooyong (an exhibition where he defeated Dominic Thiem) match where I could really try it out. I had a lot of practice sets. I'm happy with the new motion, you know, new service motion. I don't want to say 'new serve', but new service motion. Some corrections, I guess, some improvements to the technique, which I think are allowing me to be more efficient with the serve, but also allowing me to release the load from the elbow, which is, you know, obviously something that I have to do because I have that injury.”

The elbow injury is not completely a thing of the past, and it will need to be monitored by Djokovic over the course of the fortnight in Melbourne.

“It hasn't been 100 percent yet healed,” Djokovic said. “But right now it's at the level where I can compete, and every day is getting better. You know, I'm hoping that it can be 100% at the start of the tournament. Throughout the tournament, I don't know how it's going to behave. Even if it's 100% healed, after six months of no competition, you never know how you're going to react. So let's see. There's not much more I can do. I've done really everything in my power, with a team of people around me, to enable me to be right here in front of you guys, and to compete in Australian Open.”

But the lingering doubt has not dampened Djokovic’s enthusiasm for competition.

“Everything is possible really,” he said. “I don't know how my body's going to behave this year or any other year. Right now all I can think about, and where I can sort of say direct my energy, is in the present moment. So far everything is going in the right direction.”

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