Monday, December 11, 2023

Novak Djokovic steps down and makes a superb mid-match comeback

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By Brett Graham and Chris de Silva

World No.1 Novak Djokovic said the strength of the crowd at the show in Adelaide forced him to make a comeback after his late withdrawal.

After retiring from the event a few minutes before his scheduled game against Italy’s Jannik Sinner, Djokovic stunned fans in attendance as he returned to play the second set of the match, after his replacement Filip Krajinovic won the first set 6 -3.

Djokovic pulled out the second set 6-3, winning the game, and offered an explanation for his initial absence and subsequent return.

“I’m sorry I didn’t walk the pitch from the start,” he told Nine.

“I had to do treatment with my physiotherapist and I haven’t been feeling my best the last few days. I didn’t know how I was going to react. I wanted to play and I wanted to go out here and I hope I was. enough for you guys.

“It’s not easy (to play with the bulb) but it’s part of what we do. We are professional athletes and over the years we learn to play with pain and it’s just a matter of whether the pain is bearable or not.

“After a tough training block and having the ATP Cup and the Australian Open just around the corner, you don’t want to risk too much. The emotion was so strong in me to come out on the pitch today for see the stands full and I just had to play. “

Previously, the Serb had said he was grateful to be out of quarantine, after spending his two weeks in a hotel in Adelaide.

“I think we take for granted these days that we are free to be able to walk on the ground,” he said.

“It’s great to be outside, we had to do it. It was good here in Adelaide, I have to say we trained well, we had four and a half hours to train and be outside with the fresh air.

“We’re just happy to be outside, it sounds a bit strange to be honest.”

While Djokovic was able to train during his quarantine, he sympathized with more than 70 players confined to their rooms.

“At the end of the day we are outside, we are trying to play tennis and bring good positive emotions to people, that is why we are here to provide entertainment, passion and fun”, said he declared.

“Compared to a fairly large group of players who are still in complete lockdown, I sympathize with them.

“These guys and girls will definitely have a disadvantage, they’ve trained in their halls. It’s great that ATP, WTA and Tennis Australia have pushed back the start date for the warm-up tournaments.

“I hope we don’t see any injuries, that’s the main part I’m concerned about.”

Djokovic grabbed the headlines early in the quarantine period, when he sent a request to Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley with a series of suggestions on behalf of players who were isolating themselves.

This involved moving as many players as possible to private homes with tennis courts.

The Serbian was faced with a reaction from the public, but claimed that his list was simply a list of “suggestions” and made with good intentions.

“I know people love to discuss whether we were allowed to enter Australia, and I understand a lot of citizens are not allowed to enter Australia,” Djokovic said.

“But we are very grateful to be here and to participate in one of the biggest tournaments in the world.

There are different circumstances and experiences, it’s a very unique experience for me so let’s see.

“I think it’s great that we have 7-10 days before the Australian Open … everyone will have one or two games in mind and then we’ll get to the best of five on the men’s side. think I’m ready. “

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