Novak Djokovic is unlikely to play at Australian Open because of an ailing elbow

Novak Djokovic, who has not played since Wimbledon in July because of an injured right elbow, is “very unlikely” to play at next month’s Australian Open because he is hesitant to take a drug…

Novak Djokovic is unlikely to play at Australian Open because of an ailing elbow

Novak Djokovic, who has not played since Wimbledon in July because of an injured right elbow, is “very unlikely” to play at next month’s Australian Open because he is hesitant to take a drug needed to administer the elbow injury, according to his father.

Djokovic has refused the shot — an intramuscular injection used as part of a modern treatment for an injured elbow — because it would likely shorten his career.

“He’s very unlikely to play in Australia because he hates needles,” Dejan Djokovic, the elder of Novak’s two parents, said. “He has arthritis in his back. If he had the shot, it would mean a short career and his back would be damaged.”

Novak is trying to come to terms with two facets of his life right now — his troublesome elbow and trying to define his tennis career. He said last week that he needed “one more month, two months” of healthy training to prepare for Australia. But he also said that was before he ever learned that he would likely need the injection in order to play.

“The physical part, definitely, is something I need to get over first,” Novak Djokovic said on August 17 in Beijing. “For me, it’s going to be mostly a mental challenge also. To really, finally deal with the pain, finally deal with the inflammation and everything that I go through.”

After his ranking dropped to 22nd in the world, Djokovic had his elbow examined by doctors from three different international medical organizations. They said the problem was not simply an inflammation, as Djokovic had stated in July, but a torn ligament and other tendinitis. He will now undergo stem-cell therapy, which will use a single infusion of immune cells to help replenish the damaged ligament.

Dejan Djokovic, a former Yugoslav professional tennis player who lives in Belgrade, said the stem-cell therapy was too risky for Novak to try in the United States, and would cost him between $40,000 and $60,000 per treatment. He also doubted that Novak could receive two “good shots” at the same time, meaning he would need the injection four days apart — and that two injection sessions could leave him with a sore elbow for a couple of weeks.

Djokovic has said he plans to skip the Cincinnati Masters and the Rogers Cup in Montreal in September, but remains hopeful to be ready for Melbourne. He is scheduled to play in Shanghai for the first time next week.

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