Novak Djokovic has opened up on the extent of his hamstring injury as he admitted it was “really bad” during his third-round win over Grigor Dimitrov. The fourth seed needed a medical time out but prevailed 7-6(7) 6-3 6-4 and later confessed that he had almost been forced to pull out of the Australian Open before it started.
Djokovic booked his spot in the second week of the Australian Open on Saturday despite fears that he could struggle against the 24th seed given his hamstring injury. The nine-time champion in Melbourne looked better compared to his second round against Enzo Couacaud but still needed treatment on his thigh twice before closing out the win.
While he didn’t appear to be in as much pain as he was on Thursday, the 35-year-old has now revealed that the hamstring was still “really bad” during his match against Dimitrov as he revealed the extend of what he goes through to attempt to manage it. “Well, it kind of always starts well in last few matches, including this one, and then some movement happens and then it gets worse,” he explained in his post-match press conference.
“Yeah, pills kick in, some hot cream and stuff. That works for a little bit, then it doesn’t, then works again. It’s really a roller coaster, honestly.” And Djokovic said it was also affecting him emotionally, adding: “It requires a lot of energy that is being spent from my side mentally and physically, as well, to deal with the match with my opponent and also with not ideal physical state.”
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Despite the struggle of managing his injury, Djokovic was just happy to be competing after doubting whether he’d even be able to play ahead of the tournament. “But it is what it is,” he continued.
“It’s kind of a circumstances that you have to accept. I’m just very grateful that I’m actually able to play. The way it looked just before the tournament started, I thought that it wouldn’t be possible. I’m still here and still holding on.”
But it wasn’t all good news, as the 21-time Grand Slam winner admitted that he had moments where the injury felt as bad as it did during his second-round match, in which he received an off-court medical time out and dropped a set to the world No 191. Asked how close he had been to withdrawing, Djokovic said: “Well, I did not want to pull out for the tournament because I wanted to see how it’s going to feel on the court.
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“So the first match was good. The second match I struggled a lot. I had couple of moments where it was really bad. Today, as well.” Despite concerns that he could still be forced to pull out or retire a match, Djokovic will go into his match against Alex de Minaur with a positive mindsetl.
“But I managed to, as I said, survive and kind of pull it through. I’ll take it match by match. I don’t know what awaits, but I do hope and I have faith for the best,” he added. The world No 5’s words come after he claimed the hamstring was “not good at all” during a Eurosport interview after his second-round tie. “That’s all I can say, now it’s really up to God to help me, and physio and everything,” he said at the time.