Novak Djokovic injury mystery deepens in practice match


By Sam Worthington and Emily Patterson

Novak Djokovic has revealed that a hamstring injury curtailed his practice session with Daniil Medvedev, saying he ended the hitout as a precautionary measure.

There were fresh concerns over the fitness of Djokovic after the Australian Open favourite repeatedly received medical treatment during Wednesday’s practice match.

The practice session – which was Djokovic’s first hit out at Melbourne Park after he was infamously deported from the country ahead of last year’s Open – was scheduled to take 75 minutes, however Djokovic exited after just 36 minutes.

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Addressing the retirement, Djokovic revealed that he was dealing with a persistent hamstring issue, one that he did not want to make worse just days out from the first grand slam tournament of the season.

“It’s the hamstring that I had problems with in Adelaide last week,” he told 9News Melbourne on Wednesday.

“I just felt it pulling and I didn’t want to risk anything worse. I played a set and apologised to him (Medvedev) and he was understanding. I just want to avoid any bigger scares before the Australian Open.”

The current world No.5 broke Medvedev in the opening game but when leading 3-2, called for treatment from a member of his team.

The Russian former world No.1 then won the next two games with Djokovic again receiving treatment at the break when trailing 4-3 and again at 5-4.

He retired from the match after Medvedev claimed the first set a game later.

Djokovic won the Adelaide International title on Sunday after battling hamstring issues in the semi final victory over Medvedev on Saturday.

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The 21-time grand slam champion appeared hampered in Adelaide, clutching at his leg and testing his range of motion several times before beating the Russian.

Medvedev clearly thought Djokovic was feigning the injury on Saturday, mocking his rival by grabbing his left hamstring and hopping around.

Djokovic batted away fears in his on-court interview.

“Thankfully it was nothing too serious,” the 35-year-old said.

“If it was I wouldn’t be able to continue. So, I just tried with some medical timeout and some inflammatories, and kind of settled in…

“The longer the match went the more my hamstring was warmer, I guess, and bothering me less.”

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However, speaking after taking victory in Sunday’s decider, Djokovic admitted that he had worked “deep into the night” with his physio to get his leg right ahead of the final.

“There were a few times in the match I felt it was tightening up, the muscle, but nothing that would worry me for my performance,” he said.

The hamstring issue casts doubts over whether Djokovic will take to the court on Friday for a scheduled practice match against Nick Kyrgios, a contest which sold out in under an hour on Tuesday.

The Serbian superstar was awarded the No.4 seed in the men’s singles draw for the Australian Open, with last year’s champion Rafael Nadal this year’s top seed.

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