The picture opens up… for a worried Djokovic

The picture opens up… for a worried Djokovic

MELBOURNE, Australia | Rafael Nadal exit, Casper Ruud exit. The Spaniard and Norwegian, who were seeded first and second at the Australian Open, were eliminated in the second round, leaving the door open for Novak Djokovic who already appeared to be the big favorite to win the first major tournament of the season .

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• Also read: Australian Open: Eliminated in second round, Rafael Nadal ‘mentally devastated’

But now the Serb, who has been titled nine times in Melbourne, is concerned. His left thigh, wrapped in a large bandage, was the subject of discussion even before the start of the 14 days when the fourth favorite had to cancel a number of training sessions.

On Thursday, in his second-round match against little-known Frenchman Enzo Couacaud, ranked 191st in the world, “Djoko” was forced to take a medical break at the end of the second round to undergo hamstring treatment.

The Serb, who at times stood on the field grimacing and limping, left the center for minutes. On his return, he slipped in the tiebreak but won the encounter 6-1 6-7(5) 6-2 6-0.

The outcome of the last two rounds might indicate that the treatments received from “Djoko” solved everything, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

A “non-ideal” situation

The ex-world number one, who was absent in Melbourne last year after being kicked out due to visa issues, was not reassured after his win.

In fact, Djokovic even said he was “concerned”.

“I have reason to be,” he added. The situation regarding my injury isn’t ideal, but I don’t want to go into detail. »

“I have to accept what is happening. My team does everything so that I can play every game. The advantage of Grand Slam tournaments is that we have a day off between each match. »

Still work to do

The 35-year-old legend is not only aiming for a 10th Australian Open title that would improve his own brand, but also a 22nd major tournament crown that would equal Nadal’s record.

Due to the failures of Ruud, the American Taylor Fritz (8th) and the German Alexander Zverev (12th), the table at the bottom is now completely robbed of its original seed.

As some stats fans have noted, the favorites in this segment are now Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut (25th), Americans Tommy Paul (35th in the world) and Jenson Brooksby (39th in the world), and veteran Briton Andy Murray (66).

Djokovic, who is in the section directly above, still has work to do to get there. The Serb meets Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, who is 27th in Melbourne, in the third round on Friday night or next night.

He could face Australia’s Alex de Minaur, 22nd, in the round of 16 before potentially meeting Russia’s Andrey Rublev, fifth, or young Dane Holger Rune, ninth, in the quarters.

After that, his task could be simplified. But first the body must withstand.

– With AFP

Murray has heart and iron resilience

MELBOURNE, Australia | It was 4.06am in Melbourne when Sir Andy Murray – yes, he will be knighted by the British Crown – raised his arms to celebrate his victory over Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis and his qualification for the third round of the International Open Australia , Thursday .

The former world No. 1 had just challenged his age and health by winning an anthology match after 5 hours 45 minutes of effort 4-6 6-7(4) 7-6(5) 6-. 3 and 7-5.

In the dark, the 159th-ranked Briton and Australian were just nine minutes away from beating the mark of the longest match at the Australian Open, played by Serb Novak Djokovic and Spaniard Rafael Nadal since the 2012 final.

It is also the third most recent meeting in tennis history, according to organizers.

“It was wonderful! He served very well, but I’ve been playing better and… yes, I have a big heart,” Murray said moments after his triumph on the ground.

A metal hip

A big heart and a resilience of iron… or even metal. Because the almost 36-year-old veteran with three Grand Slam titles has been playing with a metal hip for four years to cure a recurring problem.

An injury and surgery that temporarily knocked the Brit out of the world top 100.

And perhaps from the history books too, Murray was long considered a member of the ‘Big 4’ with Djokovic, Nadal and Switzerland’s Roger Federer before it was primarily his physical issues that prevented him from asserting himself at the top.

But in Melbourne, Murray is the beautiful fortnight story. Already in the first round, the 66th in the world had held out hard to overthrow the 13th favorite, Italy’s Matteo Berrettini, in five narrow sets.

An encounter in which the Scot had to save a match point.

His love of the game

Then Murray had to recover from a two-set deficit against Kokkinakis on a chilly night when the temperature didn’t exceed 15 degrees Celsius.

“Go back two sentences, I’ve done that in the past. So I relied on my experience, love of the game and competition,” he proudly admits.

– With AFP