Novak Djokovic has changed his serving technique following his elbow injury, and says he's excited about unveiling the new motion at the Australian Open.
The 30-year-old Serb is moving his racquet arm almost straight up following his ball toss, rather than swinging down and then up again.
Speaking to press before the tournament, Djokovic said that one of the benefits of his long layoff was getting to work on his game, and the adjustment would allow him to avoid wear and tear on the elbow.
"At the same time, I had plenty of time to spend with my family, and also take a different look on my game, you know, my body," he said. "It was obviously the part of my game that I had to address because of the elbow issues.
"It's not entirely different, but at the beginning even those small tweaks and changes have made a lot of difference mentally. I needed time to kind of get used to that change, understand whether that's good or not good for me."
It is not the first time Djokovic has changed his serving technique, having also adjusted it in 2010 and then experienced problems that prompted him to go back to something resembling his old swing.
The more compact motion could help, suggested Djokovic, having found his new delivery effective in an exhibition with Dominic Thiem at Kooyong a few days ago.
"So far it's been working really well. I had only Kooyong match where I could really try it," he said. "I had a lot of practice sets. I'm happy with the new motion.
"Some corrections, I guess, some improvements to the technique, which I think are allowing me to be more efficient with the serve, but also allowing me to release the load from the elbow, which is, you know, obviously something that I have to do because I have that injury."
Nevertheless, Djokovic would not describe the elbow as "100 percent" as he gets set to play his first competitive match for more than six months. Having withdrawn from both the Abu Dhabi exhibition and the ATP event in Doha, he did not know whether he would play the Australian Open until about a week ago.
"But right now it's at the level where I can compete, and every day is getting better. You know, I'm hoping that it can be 100 percent at the start of the tournament," said Djokovic. "I've done really everything in my power, with a team of people around me, to enable me to be right here in front of you guys, and to compete in Australian Open."
Both of Djokovic's coaches—Andre Agassi and new addition Radek Stepanek—are also with him at the event. Djokovic is a six-time champion at the Australian Open.