World No.1 Novak Djokovic survived an unusual injury scare to help pilot Serbia to a 2-1 victory over Italy in the Hyundai Hopman Cup at Perth Arena yesterday.
Djokovic hit the ground running with a polished 6-3 6-4 win against Andreas Seppi in his singles, but was shocked and noticeably shaken moments after when he was struck by a barrier as fans surged forward for autographs.
Two children, part of a 12-deep throng, tumbled through the barrier which struck Djokovic across the knees.
Djokovic was left squatting on his haunches with the bemused children, part of a bumper crowd of 8501, looking at the popular Serb from close range. The 25-year-old had just finished a post-match interview speaking in glowing terms abut the new arena and how he had been looking forward to playing in Perth again.
A scheduled post-match interview was cancelled as Djokovic received treatment, tournament officials nervously awaiting word as German Andrea Petkovic had already been forced out of the event because of a serious knee injury.
Djokovic recovered to partner Ana Ivanovic in the mixed doubles, but they were beaten 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 by Seppi and Francesca Schiavone.
The world No.1, who flew into Perth on Sunday afternoon, looked fresh and hit the ball crisply during the singles clash with Seppi as he ended yet another outstanding year on tour in characteristic fashion.
"I arrived quite late last night and didn't get a lot of sleep," Djokovic said.
"I felt this morning like I'm dream walking.
"As the (singles) match went on, I was managing to get my rhythm.
"I broke the ice after the first set and I felt a little bit better.
"I had a tough opponent and it's great to win in straight sets."
Ivanovic had given Serbia a 1-0 lead with her 6-0 6-4 thrashing of her experienced rival Schiavone in a performance full of merit.
Ivanovic said she couldn't have wished for a better start to the new season.
"I really got into the momentum and didn't do much wrong in the first set," she said.
"In the second set she started playing better and I still tried to be aggressive so I'm really happy I won today.
"We had some good rallies and tough points and I felt like I played well." Djokovic has twice qualified for the final of the mixed teams event, but is yet to hold the trophy aloft.
Djokovic and the enigmatic Jelena Jankovic lost in the decider to Americans Serena Williams and Mardy Fish in 2008 and three years later, he and Ivanovic had to pull out on the eve of the final after Ivanovic strained a stomach muscle and was unable to take to the court.
·Organisers have secured world No.113 Tatjana Malek to replace Andrea Petokvic in Germany's team for the rest of the Hopman Cup.
Malek answered an SOS after Petkovic suffered her knee injury in her singles rubber on Saturday night.
"I arrived quite late last night and didn't get a lot of sleep. It's great to win in straight sets."" *Novak Djokovic *