Novak Djokovic appears to be still struggling with the hamstring injury that plagued his Adelaide International victory after he received treatment and left the court during a warm-up session before the Australian Open. The durable Djokovic hurt his left hamstring when taking on Russian Daniil Medvedev in the semi-final last week in Adelaide.
Djokovic was again playing against Medvedev in a practice session at Melbourne Park, which was the first time the 21-time champion had played in front of the local public since last year's deportation saga. The session was scheduled for 75 minutes and Medvedev took the first set 6-4 on Rod Laver Arena after 36 minutes.
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However, Djokovic received treatment twice from a member of his team during the set. The 21-time grand slam champion only won one game after calling for treatment and eventually left the court early.
Spanish veteran Pablo Andujar stepped in for Djokovic to play against Medvedev who remained on court. The hamstring discomfort is a worrying sign ahead of Djokovic's bid to extend his Australian Open account to a record 10 titles.
The friendly practice match set was played in jovial spirits between Medvedev and Djokovic in front of a small, polite crowd of spectators who paid $20 each for the new chance.
Not only does Djokovic have the Australian Open to be concerned about, but he is expected to take part in the Arena Showdown with Nick Kyrgios on Friday.
Djokovic has tried to allay fears and said there wasn't anything too concerning over his injury. However, the latest images from the training session could raise fears over how his leg will cope come the five-set matches in Melbourne.
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Djokovic hasn't played at Melbourne Park since the vaccination debacle that saw him deported from Australia in 2022.
While Djokovic was greeted to a warm welcome in Adelaide, Australian Open boss Craig Tiley has raised concerns over how he will be greeted at Melbourne Park. This follows Melbourne undergoing the longest Covid-19 lockdown of any city in the world.
And while Tiley predicts a nice greeting for the 21-time grand slam champion, he has warned those looking to taunt Djokovic throughout the tournament.
“If they disrupt the enjoyment of anyone else – boom, they are out,’’ he told The Herald Sun. “We don’t want them on site. They can stay away or we will kick them out.’’
Tiley admitted security would be on the look out for troublemakers, but said there was no specific 'boo policy' in place.
Historically, Djokovic has always received mixed receptions from the crowd at grand slams. He has talked about using this as motivation in the past. However, it remains unclear what type of reception Djokovic will receive from the local public when he steps out on court at Melbourne Park for the first time since his vaccination drama.
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