Tuesday, September 26, 2023

2021 Australian Open: Novak Djokovic fights injury and overtakes Milos Raonic

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World number one Novak Djokovic was again injured in his fourth round victory over Milos Raonic at the Australian Open, then made a shock admission in stride.

The 33-year-old beat the Canadian 7-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 at Rod Laver Arena on Sunday night, qualifying for a quarter-final showdown with Alex Zverev in the process.

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After “tearing a muscle” in his abdomen on Friday night against Taylor Fritz, Djokovic revealed after the match that he entered the Raonic match without preparation.

“There was basically no preparation for this game,” he said. “I used every hour that I had since the end of the last game to recover, to try to put myself in a position where I had the opportunity to compete.

“My physio did a great job.”

Djokovic was in visible pain during the game with Raonic but still managed to pass with relative ease. Her service speed was around her normal mark.

But the Serbian has revealed that if it wasn’t for a Grand Slam tournament then he would have already withdrawn from competition, such is the severity of his injury.

“If it’s another tournament other than a Grand Slam, I would retire, I would retire from the event, for sure,” he said. “But since it’s a Grand Slam, I want to do my best to try to get on the pitch and recover.

“I didn’t know until I finished my warm-up today, three hours before I entered the field, whether or not I was going to play.

“When it warmed up it was good; during today’s game it was a bit intermittent.”

Djokovic will face sixth seed Zverev on Tuesday in a rematch of their ATP Cup game just a few weeks ago.


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