Tennis

Djokovic more dangerous than ever: Thiem

Djokovic could have a renaissance, like Federer and Nadal

Former world No. 1 and 12-time Grand Slam winner Novak Djokovic will be more dangerous than ever when he makes his long-awaited return from an elbow injury, said Dominic Thiem.

Djokovic hasn't played since retiring from his Wimbledon quarter-final against Tomas Berdych in July, but the 30-year-old makes his comeback at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi today, before launching his competitive campaign as top seed at the Qatar Open next week.

"We all know what Djokovic is capable of," said Austria's Thiem, who is also in the six-man Abu Dhabi field.

"But now, if his injury is fine, he's probably more dangerous and better if he had some time to recharge.

"I think everybody wants to know how he's playing again and we'll see his first matches here."

Thiem feels Djokovic could make the same impact as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who came back from injuries this year.

If his injury is fine, he's probably more dangerous and better if he had some time to recharge. Dominic Thiem on Novak Djokovic

Federer won the Australian Open and a record eighth Wimbledon while Nadal claimed a 10th French Open and the US Open in a Grand Slam sweep for the two veteran stars.

Nadal and Federer also ended the year at No. 1 and No. 2 in the world respectively.

"I think we can expect the same from Djokovic because he is in the same league as Roger and Rafa. He is also one of the greatest players of all time," added Thiem, who claimed his first win in six meetings over Djokovic at the French Open quarter-finals in June.

"It's going to be an exciting year. There are players returning from injuries, but apart from Novak, nobody else will make a comeback like Roger and Rafa.

"It's too tough. I think everybody can look forward to a great and tense start of the season."

Also back in action in the exhibition tournament, which started at the Zayed Tennis Centre in UAE's capital yesterday, is former women's No. 1 Serena Williams.

The 36-year-old American was last seen in action winning the Australian Open for a modern-era record 23rd Grand Slam title in January.

She then took a sabbatical to give birth to her first child, Alexis Olympia, in September.

Williams takes on reigning French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in a match scheduled just before the men's final in Abu Dhabi tomorrow.

Another player in the field who is looking to build on a successful 2017 is South African Kevin Anderson. The world No. 14, who reached the US Open final before losing to Nadal, also welcomed the return of Djokovic and Williams.

Said Anderson: "We all are eager to see what Novak is going to do when he comes back." - AFP

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