Novak Djokovic may not play again until clay season after Australian Open win, says Goran Ivanisevic
World No 1 Novak Djokovic could be out of action for another month as he recovers from an abdominal tear suffered during his victory at the Australian Open. Djokovic said he probably made the injury worse by playing on and his coach Goran Ivanisevic has revealed that he is set to undergo an MRI scan in the next few weeks and may not be back on court until April.
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Novak Djokovic’s coach Goran Ivanisevic says it is "realistic" that the world No 1 will not play again until the clay-court season as he recovers from an abdominal tear suffered at the Australian Open.
"It is realistic," Ivanisevic told Tennis Majors when asked if Djokovic may not play this month.
"Now it depends on the injury as well, but there is no need to rush it. The only tournament that he would play is maybe Miami.
I think his next MRI is in two weeks, so we will see. There is no need to take any risks, I would rather see him 100 per cent ready for the clay season in order to try to go after the Roland-Garros title once more.
If Djokovic does not play this month he will miss an ATP 500 in Rotterdam (which starts this week), as well as either an ATP 500 in Dubai or Acapulco, and the first Masters 1000 event of the season in Miami, which starts on March 24.
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The clay-court season then gets underway on April 5, with the first Masters event in Monte Carlo on April 11.
Ivanisevic suggested that the world No 1 may start to play fewer tournaments each year as he prioritises Grand Slams, but his schedule will not be altered too much.
"If you look at his schedule in the last five or six years, it is not as if he was playing a bunch of tournaments," added Ivanisevic.
"I do not think one can focus on Slams only since you need to have good preparation and a positive feeling going into the Slam. For instance, Novak was feeling great about himself before the Australian Open because of the two tough matches he had at the ATP Cup.
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"I am sure that he will play a couple of tournaments on clay before Roland-Garros, one grass tournament before Wimbledon and then there are Olympics before the US Open.
"We will see about indoors, but on a yearly level, he might play two or three tournaments less, which is not a significant change."
Djokovic this week equalled Roger Federer's all-time record for most weeks as ATP world No 1, holding the top spot for the 310th week. His victory at the Australian Open title guaranteed that he will surpass the record on March 8.
His absence from upcoming tournaments this month means world No 2 Rafael Nadal and world No 3 Daniil Medvedev could make up ground in the rankings, although both are over 2,000 points behind.
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It was difficult to gauge exactly how bad Djokovic’s injury was at the Australian Open given his high level of play in the latter rounds, but he did say that he probably made it worse by playing on.
Now looks like an ideal time to recover and with just a month until the clay-court season it wouldn’t be too surprising if he skipped the Miami Open, despite it carrying plenty of ranking points as a Masters 1000.
Nadal, who is also out with injury at the moment, Medvedev and Dominic Thiem may see this as a chance to close the gap in the world rankings, but Djokovic doesn’t look like he will be caught any time soon, especially if comes back at full health.
It does seem, though, that the Big Three are going to be cutting down on their tournament appearances, with Djokovic saying after the Australian Open that he will focus more on Grand Slams as he looks to overtake Nadal and Federer at the top of the all-time standings.