Novak Djokovic has taken an angry swipe at those questioning the legitimacy of his hamstring complaint, during a fiery press conference at Melbourne Park on Monday night. The Serb brushed aside any concerns he may have had about the injury during a ruthless, straight-sets demolition job against Alex de Minaur in the fourth round of the Australian Open.
The Serb destroyed Australia's last big hope in the men's singles with a clinical performance on Rod Laver Arena to move a step closer to a 10th Australian title and a 22nd major crown that would equal great rival Rafa Nadal's all-time record. With his left thigh again strapped, the 35-year-old was a man on a mission, expending as little energy as possible in a ruthless 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 win that took just over two hours.
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Djokovic admitted earlier in the tournament that managing his hamstring injury was a day-by-day prospect and that it had left him concerned about his chances of winning a 10th Australian Open crown. However, the 35-year-old admitted after the match against de Minaur that he had no issues with the hamstring and had played his best match of the year against the Aussie.
Before Monday night's match, Aussie great Todd Woodbridge questioned the severity of Djokovic's hamstring complaint and claimed the Serb had a history of "playing up" his injuries. Djokovic also revealed during his last appearance at the Australian Open in 2021 that he competed with a torn abdominal muscle suffered in the third round.
The 21-time major winner of course battled through the problem on that occasion to lift his ninth title at Melbourne Park, with his latest injury leading to fresh scrutiny around just how serious it is for Djokovic. Addressing Serbian media during his post-match press conference on Monday night, the 35-year-old took an angry swipe at such questions, after claiming the media treats him differently than other players on tour.
“I leave the doubting to those people – let them doubt,” he said in Serbian. “Only my injuries are questioned. When some other players are injured, then they are the victims, but when it is me, I am faking it. It is very interesting… I don’t feel that I need to prove anything to anyone.
“I have got the MRI, ultrasound and everything else, both from two years ago and now. Whether I will publish that in my documentary or on the social media, depends on how I feel. Maybe I will do I it, maybe I won’t.
“I am not really interested at this point what people are thinking and saying. “It is fun, it is interesting to see how the narrative surrounding me continues, narrative that is different compared to other players that have been going through similar situations. But I am used to it, and it just gives me extra strength and motivation. So I thank them for that.”
Alex de Minaur questions Novak Djokovic injury
Djokovic's comments came after de Minaur admitted that he tried not to read too much into all the talk about Djokovic's hamstring injury before the match. When asked about the issue after the match though, the Aussie said his opponent looked to be moving extremely well on Monday night.
“I don’t know. You tell me how you thought he looked out there,” de Minaur responded to reporters. “Playing him, I thought he was moving pretty well, so... I don’t know.”
De Minaur conceded that it was hard to ignore all the talk around Djokovic's apparent fitness struggles in the lead-up to the match. “Look, I don’t know. I think everyone’s kind of seeing what’s been happening over the couple of weeks. It’s the only thing everyone’s been talking about," he added.
“Today I was out there on court against him. Either I’m not a good enough tennis player to expose that, or... it looked good to me. He was just too good in all aspects.”
Djokovic said despite all the talk about his troublesome hamstring before the match, he "didn’t feel anything" out of the ordinary during the straight-sets mauling of the Aussie. Asked about his vanquished opponent's comments about his fitness issues, the Serb did open up a bit more about the hamstring after crediting his medical team with the work they've done to get his body in the right shape.
“I thank my medical team, my physio. Thank God, anybody that really helped me," he added. “We take it day by day. We do a lot of things actually. It’s been honestly exhausting to be involved in a lot of different treatments and machines and stuff that we do.
“At the same time it was necessary. It is necessary in order to get myself in a condition to play. So I’m really glad that my body has responded really well. Tonight I didn’t feel any pain. I moved as well as I have the whole tournament. It means we are progressing in the right direction.”
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