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Novak Djokovic overcomes injury scare to kick off 2024 with a victory at United Cup

Novak Djokovic successfully negotiated his first match of 2024 at the United Cup in Perth but had to overcome an injury scare midway through the match.

Representing Serbia in the mixed-gender team event, Djokovic was cruising in his match against Jiri Lehecka of the Czech Republic when a wrist injury threatened to derail his challenge.

The World No 1 was leading 6-1 3-1 when the problem surfaced, leading to Lehecka suddenly winning four games in a row on the way to snatching the second set in a tie-break and leveling the scores.

Along the way, he also managed to provoke Djokovic's anger by celebrating a break of serve too enthusiastically, the Serbian looking erratic as he lost the tie-break 4-7.

Things looked bleak for Djokovic at that stage but, true to form, the 24-time Grand Slam winner managed to find some extra reserves after taking a medical timeout, overcoming his wrist niggle to dispatch Lehecka in fairly ruthless fashion by racing to a 5-0 lead via two breaks of serve on the way to a 6-1 6-7 6-1 victory.

That allowed Serbia to level the tie against the Czech Republic at 1-1 after reigning Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova had given her country the lead by beating Olga Danilovic 6-1 3-6 6-3.

"It's always the greatest honour to represent your country, [but] it's also more responsibility, bigger burden as well," Djokovic said after the match

"Especially if you're playing in this kind of format, second match, 0-1, more pressure you have to win. But we're still in the tournament."

Djokovic was scheduled to play in the deciding mixed doubles match but withdrew - likely due to his wrist niggle.

His absence did not prove costly for Serbia, however, as Danilovic and Hamad Medjedovic went on to defeat the Czech pair of Miriam Kolodziejova and Petr Nouza 4-6 7-6 10-8 to take the tie 2-1 and advance to the quarter-finals.

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