"There was a doubt, especially after I pulled out of the first week of the year", said Djokovic, who had not played since retiring in the Wimbledon quarter-finals last July.
Their replacement - a "lucky loser" from the qualifying tournament - will get the other 50 percent of the first-round prize money.But players who do not "perform to the required professional standard" in round one, including by retiring, also risk being fined their prize money, the new rules say.
The 2008 Australian Open runner-up withdrew from the Qatar Open before it started with a wrist injury a month after leading his country France to victory in the Davis Cup.
The six-time Open champion played his first exhibition matches in six months on Wednesday, and reported delight at his performance - and no pain from the hit-out. Germany's former world No. 1 Angelique Kerber, who continued her resurgence with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Italian Camila Giorgi later yesterday, stands in the way of Barty's second career title.
"I know he's got a bit of a mixed image for some people". So ravaged are both draws, it is a taking a leap of faith to declare across time zones that there will be no more wounded joining the leading women and men who have either fallen or are sinking to their knees before the first grand slam of the season. He will play world No 100 Rogerio Dutra-Silva in what ought to be an untroubled opener before a projected third-round meeting with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. I take it the right way. The defending champion returned to tennis after giving birth to daughter Olympia, at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship where she was beaten by French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.
"I'm really, really happy to be back on the tour and seeing the sun", the 32-year-old Swiss told reporters in Melbourne.
The first grand slam always brings with it a sense of uncertainty.
Sharapova, who missed last year's Open while serving a ban after testing positive to banned substance Meldonium, said she still covets a return to the No 1 ranking.
We will have to wait and see how ready he is to compete on the grand slam level once the tournament starts.
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