DOHA: Novak Djokovic will start the 2015 ATP World tour season by playing doubles to determine whether he is fit enough to begin the new year with a bid for a 49th career title.
Doubts were cast over the world number one’s ability to make a prompt start to what could be a history-making year by the fever which caused his withdrawal from the final of the Abu Dhabi exhibition on Saturday.
Djokovic was nevertheless well enough to travel to Doha, and although he declined to do a press conference on Sunday, he expects to make an exploratory start on Monday, in partnership with young compatriot Filip Krajinovic.
If that goes well, Djokovic would begin an attempt to succeed title-holder Rafael Nadal with a debut match in the Qatar Open against another fellow Serb Dusan Lajovic on Tuesday.
If he competes it will be only the third time that Djokovic has competed in the opening week of a season.
And there are significant advantages for the seven-time Grand Slam winner to try to do this.
Not only might it aid his preparation for a bid to regain the Australian Open title starting in Melbourne in two weeks’ time, it might even boost a belief that he can complete a career Grand Slam in Paris in June.
The French Open is the only Grand Slam title to have eluded Djokovic, 27, and if he were to win a final next Saturday against Nadal, even on a different hard court surface, it would do no harm to his hopes of beating the nine-times champion on the Roland Garros clay.