Tennis: Novak Djokovic gears up for Australian Open with Melbourne tournament

Novak Djokovic has been sidelined since July with a right elbow injury. PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (AFP) - Former world No. 1 Novak Djokovic will warm up for a tilt at a record seventh Australian Open crown by playing in an innovative quickfire event at the Melbourne venue.

Djokovic, who has been sidelined since July with a right elbow injury, is making his long-awaited return to the game at an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi from Dec 28-30.

The Serbian world No. 12 and volatile Australian Nick Kyrgios will headline the eight-man Tie Break Tens tournament at Margaret Court Arena at Melbourne Park on Jan 10.

Each match will last for one tiebreak, with the first player to 10 points winning. The entire tournament will be completed on the night, and the winner will pocket US$250,000 (S$336,445).

The Australian debut of the novel format comes after three previous events in London, Vienna and Madrid.

Kyrgios, who brought an early end to his season in October because of a longstanding hip injury, said the tournament "really suits my game style".

"I am looking forward to having some fun with it and I reckon the crowds will really get into it," he added.

The Australian Open's tournament director Craig Tiley said he was "absolutely thrilled" the format would feature in Melbourne, adding that it was "fast, it's flashy and heaps of fun for everyone".

The Australian Open begins at Melbourne Park on Jan 15.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.