1674596779 At the moment of truth Djokovic goes on the attack

At the moment of truth, Djokovic goes on the attack

The moment of truth has arrived, barely five days to unravel all the mysteries of this Australian Open and all speculation or trompe-l’oeil is over. Cards on the table, masks off. Understood. Kazakh Elena Rybakina, for example, has made it very clear that, like Wimbledon, where she triumphed last year, she is a contender for the title and that stopping her will not be easy; There is also no doubt that Victoria Azarenka still has good tennis at 33 or that Stefanos Tsitsipas is feeling like a fish in water in Melbourne; Russia’s Karen Khachanov is grateful for Sebastian Korda’s (wrist) relinquishment and is also running, trying to break the semi-final barrier he has never broken at a Major and today tournament champion Novak Djokovic returns to the stage back. nine tracks and 21 major ones on the record. Who knows if soon 22.

Nole returns and intimidates. Rather inconspicuous so far, without ducking but also without showing its fangs, the Balkans these days are evolving out of discretion, without saying a word louder than another, let alone the slightest spirit of revenge after what happened 12 months earlier is when he was arrested and deported for his attempt to invade Oceanian land irregularly. On the day of the premiere, he was delighted with the warm welcome – “particularly from the Serbian community”, he emphasized –; in the next two rounds he had to deal with his left thigh injury – he lost a set against the 119th in the world and couldn’t hide several grimaces against Grigor Dimitrov –; and ultimately he made an impression because of the high level offered against Alex de Miñaur. “So loud that he turned off the TV on the second device…” says a circuit engineer.

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Unlike the previous two dates that stumbled from the physical plane, Nole showed no discomfort in this duel apart from a specific stretch to relax the muscles. “The signs are good, but we won’t celebrate anything,” he said in the conference room after the win. It transmitted the improvement, and from there almost always the tone: conjectures, speculations, doubts. How far did you injure your thigh during the Adelaide prep and how far have you recovered to offer that level jump? Noise and distrust, which are not alien to him. The until then held back Djokovic, who turned 36 on May 22, changed and hardened the reduced language of those two weeks in Australia. It exploded during talks with his country’s special envoys.

“Only my injuries are questionable. When other players are injured, they are the victims, but when it’s me, I fake it,” said the man from Belgrade, who was quoted this Wednesday in the quarter-finals (around 9:30 a.m., Eurosport) with the Russian Andrei Rublev.

“Playing with discomfort is not an injury”

“I have MRI, ultrasound and everything else, both from two years ago [cuando ganó el torneo pese a jugarlo desde la tercera ronda con un desgarro abdominal] from now. When I will publish it in my documentary [sobre su carrera y su vida, ] or on social networks depends on how I feel. It can do it, it can’t,” he continued in a statement collected by the Tennis Majors portal. “I don’t care what people think or say. It’s fun, it’s interesting to see the narrative going on around me, a narrative that’s different than other players who have gone through a similar situation. But I got used to it and that gives me more strength and motivation. Thank you,” he said ironically.

When the ramps tip over and only the strongest instincts survive, Djokovic shifts up a gear. There are those who question it (more or less obviously or veiled), others who defend it. “80% of players struggle with physical problems,” said American Taylor Fritz (world nine) on Twitter; “Some players talk about their injuries more than others, but I don’t think it’s fake. Some exaggerate because it takes the pressure off them and helps them play better, but it can be one in 500 and honestly that’s fine. You have to do what works for you.”

A Djokovic fan at central Melbourne Park.A Djokovic fan in central Melbourne Park CARL RECINE (Portal)

Daria Saville, the 56th of the WTA, also intervened in cyberspace. “Playing with discomfort, sore muscles or even chronic pain is not an injury. An injury causes you enough pain to prevent you from competing,” said the Australian; “Novak is a machine and can probably take more pain than others, plus I’m sure he and his team spend hours and hours working on his tendon to make it better.”

A day earlier, De Miñaur described how the Serb, whom he reprimanded a year earlier for the episode at the country’s customs, “moved quite well”. The Australian hinted he was at least surprised by his rival’s physical reaction. “I don’t know, what were you thinking? [dirigiéndose al periodista]. Everyone has seen what happened in the last two weeks… It’s all that’s been talked about; Either I’m not a very good tennis player or he did well. He’s done too well in every way.” To which Djokovic, who is now attacking and had taken his number plate last season, replied: “I have no relationship with him, he has already shown what he thinks of me. “


Two years ago, Djokovic conquered the Australian tall in similar circumstances as now. Then the Serb tore his stomach in the third round match against Taylor Fritz and carried the injury to the end of the tournament.

“If it wasn’t a Grand Slam, I definitely wouldn’t be playing. But it’s a Grand Slam and that means a lot to me at this point in my career. I want to do everything to stay the course,” he said in 2021.

An MRI revealed the 1.7cm abdominal tear had grown to a 2.5 by the end of the tournament, which he increased after beating Daniil Medvedev in three sets in the final.

“I have a thick skin. There are people who doubt me and of course it hurts me,” he said; “I’ve learned that you can’t please everyone, and I take criticism no matter what I do. I’m human and that’s frustrating, but I’ve managed to handle that frustration well.

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