Novak Djokovic has said he thinks it is "unfair" that some are doubting the validity of his abdominal injury after he stormed to yet another Australian Open crown.
The world number one clinched an astonishing 18th Grand Slam title as he brushed aside Daniil Medvedev in straight sets to win 7-5 6-2 6-2 at Melbourne Park.
It was another remarkable triumph for Djokovic, who is now within just two Slams of the tallies racked up by rivals Federer and Nadal, and it could hardly have been more convincing.
The achievement was all the more remarkable considering the fact that the Serb picked up an abdominal strain in the third round which threatened to derail his tournament.
Asked in his post-tournament press conference what he made of some people doubting the severity of his injury, Djokovic was clear in his response.
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"It has been definitely emotionally the most challenging Grand Slam that I've ever had with everything that was happening, injury, off-the-court stuff, quarantines," he said. "It has been a roller-coaster ride in the last four weeks.
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"It is a tear, a muscle tear, of the abdominal oblique muscle. I felt it right away when it happened against [Taylor] Fritz in the third round. That's what I said in the post-match interview. I was kind of guessing, but I felt just that it's a tear because of the snap and the way I felt after that.
"I know there's been a lot of speculation, people questioning whether I'm injured, how can I recover so quickly, it's impossible to do that. I get it.
Everyone is entitled to have their own opinion, and everybody has the freedom and the right to say what they want, criticise others. I just felt like it was a bit unfair at times. But, hey, it's not the first nor the last time.
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"I was quite worried. I did not know realistically that I could actually play. I didn't know until two hours before the fourth-round match. That's when I stepped on the court and played for the first time since the third round.
"It looked okay. The pain was at the level that was bearable for me. I just accepted the fact that I'm going to have to play with the pain. Of course, we always play with pain in professional sports. It's part of what we do, who we are. But this was a different kind of pain, a pain that comes from an injury rather than soreness or whatever.
"Whether I was aware of the fact that I was going to possibly cause more damage and risk more damage to this injury? Yes, I was aware of that. As I was saying previously in the press conferences, if there was any tournament, it's going to be here and it's going to be any major where I would risk worse injuries or damage in order to try to give myself a chance to go far in the tournament.
"Of course, I haven't done it myself. The medical team, my physio, have done tremendous work. With God's grace, I managed to achieve what I achieved and I'm very thankful."
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