World no. 1 Novak Djokovic couldn't compete in the opening set against Jannik Sinner at A Day at the Drive exhibition in Adelaide, struggling with the right-hand blister. Filip Krajinovic replaced the compatriot and took the set 6-3, controlling the pace with an early break and sealing the deal in 29 minutes.
Djokovic appeared on the court for set number two and lost the opening point following a great rally with the young gun. Jannik forced Novak's error in the third game to remain 2-1 in front and held at love at 2-2. Djokovic repeated that in game six and broke Jannik in the next one to forge a 4-3 advantage.
The Serb closed the eighth game with a forehand down the line winner and grabbed five straight points on the return at 5-3 to move over the top and secure the win. Djokovic will be the top seed at the upcoming Australian Open, seeking the ninth Melbourne crown and the 18th Major.
Before that, Novak will lead Serbia at the ATP Cup, looking forward to repeating the last year's success and win another team competition for his country.
Novak Djokovic played one set against Jannik Sinner in Adelaide, winning it 6-3.
"I'm sorry that I didn't step on the court from the beginning.
I had to do some treatment with my physio, and I wasn't feeling my best the last couple of days. I didn't know how I would react, but I wanted to play; I wanted to get out there. Thank you so much for making our day and making our year.
We didn't play in front of this big crowd in 12 months, so this is very special. It's not easy, but it's part of what we do. We're professional athletes; we learn over the years to play with the pain. It's just a question of whether the pain is bearable or not.
So obviously, coming off a hard training block and having the ATP Cup and Australian Open around the corner, you don't want to risk it too much. But the emotion was so strong in me to come out on the court today, seeing almost full stands, I just had to play. That's it, I had to play," Novak Djokovic said.