'It's impossible': Nadal's pointed response to Djokovic injury saga
It's the burning question on the minds of many tennis fans; Is Novak Djokovic's injury concern as bad as the World No.1 has made out?
Debate has erupted in tennis circles about Djokovic's abdominal injury, after the Serbian superstar insisted it was a tear and claimed it might prevent him from being able to see out the rest of the Australian Open.
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Those remarks came after Djokovic's third round win against Taylor Fritz, with the 17-time major winner then also managing to beat Milos Raonic 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 to book his place in the quarter-finals against Alexander Zverev.
Many have questioned the severity of the injury, despite Djokovic appearing to be in pain throughout the match against Raonic.
Certainly, his powers of recovery have also been questioned, with many observers wondering how he could still compete at such a high level if he does indeed have a torn muscle.
Serena Williams' coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, certainly wasn't convinced Djokovic had a tear based on his win against Raonc.
Looking at his performance so far vs Raonic, it is difficult to believe that Novak has an abdominal muscle tear... https://t.co/z9ffpafvCG
— Patrick Mouratoglou (@pmouratoglou) February 14, 2021
World No.2 Rafael Nadal has also now weighed in on the topic, explaining how difficult it would be playing a grand slam tournament with an abdominal tear.
The ever-polite Spaniard refused to take a shot at Djokovic, but highlighted his own experiences at the 2009 US Open when an abdominal strain eventually got the better of him.
“I started with six millimetres or so of strain and I finished the tournament, which I lost in the semi-finals, with 26 millimetres. Of course it wasn’t a smart decision (to keep playing).”
“You need to find a balance, but of course at this point of my career, if there is a big chance to increase something very important, probably I will not play,” he said.
“For me the happiness is much more important than giving me a chance to win. And at the same time, if you are bad, you will not win. That’s clear. If you really have physical problems, you will not win.
“If you have some pain and it’s not putting you in a situation that limits you, the movements, maybe you can find a way.
“But when you really, really have an injury, it’s impossible to win a tournament like this.”
Djokovic's recovery 'surprising' for uncle Toni
Nadal's uncle Toni, who coached the 20-time grand slam champion for the majority of his career - was more forthright about his scepticism of Djokovic.
“Who also seems to have overcome his physical problems is Novak Djokovic, who has managed to qualify for the quarter-final round after defeating Canadian Milos Raonic,” Toni Nadal wrote in his column for El Pais.
“In the case of the Serbian, it is surprising that so repeatedly annoyances come over him, to the point of sowing doubts about his permanence in the tournament, and then disappear overnight.”
Djokovic has merely fanned debate in the tennis world after refusing to confirm details about the extent of his injury.
However, the World No.1 has suggested that if it wasn't a grand slam tournament, he would have pulled out by now.
"I didn't hit a tennis ball yesterday ... I tried to use every single hour possible to recover and give myself at least a little bit of a chance to step on the court, which I have done," Djokovic said after the win against Raonic.
"As I said on the court, if I'm part of any other tournament other than a grand slam, I definitely wouldn't be playing.
"But it's a grand slam. It matters a lot to me at this stage of my career, of course.
"I want to do everything possible in this very short amount of time to get on the court."
Djokovic faces German sixth seed Zverev on Tuesday night for a spot in the semi-finals.
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