Serbia’s Novak Djokovic waves to the crowd as he leaves Rod Laver Arena. AP
Melbourne: Dusted off, clapped, clenched fists and thanked the heavens, Novak Djokovic stood next to Jim Courier and sent a message to the seven men remaining in the Australian Open draw.
“Tonight I didn’t feel anything. Thank you medical staff and God. I don’t want to celebrate too early. We know things can change. I am satisfied with the way I move my body and hit the ball,” he said of his leg injury.
With a left hamstring injury, he misses practice sessions, isn’t putting full effort into his shots, is heavily taped, and needs regular attention. He felt serious discomfort during his previous match with Grigor Dimitrov. The Serb admitted to taking pills all week to relieve pain.
“We take it every day. We actually do a lot. Being involved in the various treatments and machines and operations we do is honestly exhausting,” he later elaborated.
“It was necessary at the same time. I need it to get myself into a playable state. So I’m really glad that my body responded really well. Tonight I didn’t feel any pain. Not only did I have the entire tournament, but I also moved. It means we are on the right track.”
Despite the pain and physical pressure, Djokovic fell only one set. On Monday, the former world No. 1 hit his prime against Aussie Alex de Minaur. The nine-time Australian Open champion has lost just five matches, 6-2, 6-1, 6-2, before knocking down Minaur to move to 13.Work 4 in Melbourne.
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The 35-year-old man appeared to be on a mission with the goal of solving this problem as quickly as possible. With Sunday’s win, the 35-year-old Djokovic said he hopes to equal Rafael Nadal at 22 Grand Slam titles.
The 2 hour and 6 minute play put him on a collision course with Andrey Rublev, who won the day in dramatic fashion.
“Of course you never know what will happen on the court. I thought the first 4 or 5 games were pretty tight, but after one break in the first set, I felt the leeway and freedom to get through the ball and move more aggressively.
“I had my best game of the year so far.”
Best match of the year? Djokovic won all but one match in the Adelaide warm-up tournament in straight sets. In these two weeks, he has already bageled two opponents.
It was Novak’s dominance as De Minaur had zero groundstroke winners (Djokovic’s 17) and forced the Australian to commit 37 errors.
“It’s another level for me. I was just trying to hold on.” the Australian said later. “He felt like he could hit winners from anywhere on the court. I really didn’t know what to do.”
That victory also marked several milestones for him. A13Work The Australian Open quarterfinal is fourth behind Roger Federer, Nadal and John Newcombe. His 54th Grand Slam quarterfinal appearance was second only to the retired Federer’s 58.
With this, Djokovic continues his undefeated streak at the Australian Open, which has been undefeated since 2018. With this, Djokovic reached her 25th consecutive win.
As the only remaining Grand Slam champion from a draw, he is now the reigning favorite, if there were any doubts before. Injuries may have given some of his teammates some hope, but perhaps they needn’t worry anymore.
“If you look at the performance tonight, I think it has a big impact on the game. It’s time to worry less about what’s going on with your legs when you don’t have to think and calculate whether or not to aim for a particular ball. When I feel free, what I mean is what happens on the court, like tonight.”
Beware others – Novak is back on the road.
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