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Djokovic flying under Aussie Open radar

AAP logoAAP 11/01/2017 Ben McKay

Reigning Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic has finally landed in Melbourne, opting for a short and low-key preparation ahead of his potentially record-breaking Australian Open assault.

The world No.2 cancelled a planned hit-up on Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday, instead training on one of Melbourne Park's back courts with Australian teen Omar Jasika.

The switch is one of a number of change-ups for the Serbian, who will attempt to become the first man to win seven Australian Open singles titles when the 2017 tournament begins next week.

The 29-year-old ruffled feathers by skipping a promotional event in Melbourne on Tuesday night.

Organisers said the last-minute move came after Djokovic decided to spend more time with family.

He is the last of the stars to arrive in Australia, behind top seed Andy Murray, who he beat in Sunday's Qatar Open final.

Murray returned to Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday for the first time since losing the 2016 final to Djokovic, hitting up under the hot Melbourne sun.

Third-seeded Milos Raonic and fourth-seeded Stan Wawrinka started their year at the Brisbane International, where they were semi-finalists.

World No.5 Kei Nishikori also played in the Queensland tournament, defeating Wawrinka but losing the final to Grigor Dimitrov.

Gael Monfils, the world No.6, hasn't played any ranking matches in 2017 but has been practising in Australia for several days.

World No.7 Marin Cilic started his season in Chennai last week, albeit with a first-up loss, while workhorse and world No.8 Dominic Thiem played both Brisbane and Sydney lead-up events.

World No.9 Rafael Nadal, who will enter the first grand slam of the season with his lowest seeding in a decade, played in Brisbane before an exhibition match in Sydney against Nick Kyrgios this week.

Rounding out the top ten, Tomas Berdych has also found rhythm by playing in Doha alongside the world's top two and in Adelaide this week for the World Tennis Challenge.

From the top seeds, it's Djokovic's preparation that has many scratching their heads, with observers struggling to remember such a later arrival in Melbourne for the year's first major.

Djokovic made his first public appearance in Melbourne on Wednesday night at a event at Margaret Court Arena, raising money for his charity foundation.

He lost a Fast4 match to 19-year-old German Alexander Zverev, a former Australian Open junior champion, before playing cricket with the likes of Shane Warne, soccer with Archie Thompson and netball with former Australian captain Sharelle McMahon.

The Serb was in good spirits, keeping the crowd entertained with his antics and sporting skills.

"I love coming back to Australia, it's one of my favourite places and results in the past bring me beautiful memories," he said.

This year is just the second since 2011 that Djokovic begins the tournament below the top seeding.

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