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Djokovic comes back strong after layoff

AFP

Novak Djokovic hits a return during his match against Dominic Thiem at the Kooyong Classic on Wednesday.

The Associated PressMELBOURNE (AP) — Novak Djokovic played his first competitive match in six months on Wednesday, a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Dominic Thiem at the Kooyong Classic. He couldn’t have been happier — or more impressive.

It was apparent early on that Djokovic was back to full court fitness. He stopped quickly, abruptly changed directions and stabbed at a full-stretch volley that whizzed past Thiem for a winner.

He then turned and beamed. Djokovic was back after the longest injury layoff of his career and he was clearly enjoying himself on the court again.

Wearing a compression sleeve on his right arm to protect his troublesome elbow, Djokovic dominated the fifth-ranked Thiem in an exhibition match at the Kooyong Classic, a key tune-up event for next week’s Australian Open.

Still smiling afterward, Djokovic said he’d had doubts whether he’d be ready to play the first Grand Slam of the year, but the win over Thiem was a major confidence boost.

“Obviously, I was waiting for this moment for six months to get out on the court and play a match,” he said. “Also, I got a great opponent today, the No. 5 in the world, so it was a fantastic test for me to see where I am.”

Djokovic, who had been sidelined with the elbow injury since a quarterfinal loss at Wimbledon last year, initially planned to play in an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi and then a tournament in Qatar to start the season, but withdrew from both due to lingering pain in his elbow.

Serena had post-delivery issues

Meanwhile, Serena Williams told Vogue she dealt with a medical scare right after the birth of her daughter.

In a story in the magazine’s February issue and posted Wednesday on Vogue.com, Williams discusses developing several small blood clots in her lungs while in the hospital after Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. was born in September.

According to the article, the tennis superstar “spent the first six weeks of motherhood unable to get out of bed.”

When Williams originally announced her baby’s arrival, via social media postings in September, she said in a video, “We had a lot of complications, but look what we’ve got.”

Days after winning Wimbledon in 2010, Williams cut both feet on broken glass while leaving a restaurant, leading to two operations on her right foot. Then she got clots in her lungs and needed to inject herself with a blood thinner. Those shots led to a pool of blood gathering under her stomach’s skin, requiring another hospital procedure. In all, she was off the tour for about 10 months at the time, returning in 2011.

The 36-year-old Williams, who is married to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, has not competed since winning her 23rd Grand Slam singles title at the Australian Open in January 2017. Williams is skipping this year’s Australian Open, which begins next week.Speech

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