Australian Open - 'One of best moments of my career' - but Novak Djokovic could quit with injury
After suffering a restrictive abdominal injury that hampered his play for much of his third-round tie against Taylor Fritz, Novak Djokovic completed a five-set victory in the Australian Open on Friday. The Serbian declared that the win was in fact one of the best moments of his career given the fact he almost retired with the injury he suffered.
Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates winning match point in his Men's Singles third round match against Taylor Fritz of the United Statesduring day five of the 2021 Australian Open at Melbourne Park
Novak Djokovic declared his hard-fought win over Taylor Fritz was "one of the best moments" of his career - but warned that an injury which forced him to dig so deep may mean he is unable to play in the fourth round of the Australian Open.
The men’s tennis world number one was clearly struggling with an abdominal injury for much of the match and had to fight his way through with severely restricted mobility.
Nevertheless the Serbian was able to force through a win over five sets to reach the last 16 in Melbourne.
“It’s a huge relief to pull this one through in these kinds of conditions I found myself in ... it was one of a kind type of match, for me, that’s what I said on the court, and I really mean it.”
Djokovic went on to describe the win as a career highlight given the tough conditions he found himself in.
See the moment Djokovic sustained injury which left him rocking
“It’s one of the best moments I’ve had in my career under these kinds of circumstances,” he explained.
“Obviously I don’t want to talk about the intensity, or the level of injury, or the pain, it’s not going to matter much because people don’t understand what you go through on the court.
“The way it felt at the beginning of the third set, when I got my first medical timeout, I was debating really strongly in my head to retire the match after two games, because I just couldn’t move, I couldn’t rotate, I couldn’t return, the only thing I could do is serve, and that’s what got me out of the trouble ... I knew my only chance is if I serve well and put pressure on his service games, which happened.
“And whatever is happening here [the injury] got better in the fifth, and I could start to play, and return a few serves.”
Highlights: Djokovic overcomes injury to beat Fritz and reach fourth round
Djokovic sounded a warning ahead of his fourth-round match by stating that the injury appears to be a tear, seemingly threatening his ongoing participation in the tournament.
“I’m obviously very, very proud of this but at the same time also a bit worried because I don’t know what’s going on and I think it’s a tear," he said.
“I had a kind of weird feeling on one of the returns just before I got a medical time out and I knew right away that something not so great is happening.
'I think it's a tear' - Djokovic reveals he may not play fourth round
“It was confirmed by a physio from the ATP, but let’s see. I don’t know. I don’t have a great experience with tears in terms of continuing in the tournament, so that’s something which is kind of in the clouds for me at the moment, whether I’m going to step out on the court in two days.
“Hopefully, god-willing I’ll be able to play.”
WILANDER: IT'S VERY WORRYING
Speaking in the Eurosport Cube after the end of the match, Mats Wilander said he was very concerned with Djokovic's condition.
"It wasn’t a pre-existing injury. It happened at two sets to love, 1-1 in the third set. He had a bit of a slip, it affected his right hip and of course the right hip is the most important hip when you hit forehands. Then it seemed like it was moving upwards. He couldn’t hit a forehand for about an hour. In the end, something must have happened. Also adrenaline, he thought I don’t want to go out in the Australian Open. He was in pain.
"It’s very worrying, I guess the reaction we saw from Novak at the end is a positive because it means that he can possibly fix this injury in a way. It does give hope to the locker room because Milos Raonic must be thinking Novak is a little bit injured. It gives the other players hope and it’s worrying times for Novak but I think the victory celebrations say it all. I think this is something he thinks he can fix."