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Australian Open: Novak Djokovic admits ‘gamble’ in continuing title defence

Written by on 14/02/2021

Novak Djokovic admits he is risking damage to his body by continuing his Australian Open title defence.

The top seed sustained an abdominal injury during his third-round win against Taylor Fritz on Friday and his scheduled last-16 match against 14th seed Milos Raonic was in doubt.

However, after practising at Melbourne Park on Sunday, he beat the big-serving Canadian 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 6-1 6-4 to move into the quarter-finals.

Djokovic admitted in his on-court interview that he would have pulled out of any tournament other than a Grand Slam but his condition was good enough to continue his pursuit of a ninth title in Melbourne and 18th overall major.

The 33-year-old later declined to confirm whether he had suffered a muscle tear as he suspected after his victory against Fritz two days earlier.

“Mentally I think you have to accept that I did come into the match knowing that I’ll probably feel pain all the way through, which was the case,” Djokovic said.

“But the level of the pain was bearable, so I could actually play. And it was kind of going on and off a little bit during the match.”

Djokovic became the second player after Roger Federer to win 300 Grand Slam matches as he maintained his perfect record against Raonic in the pair’s 12th encounter.

“Most likely I won’t be training tomorrow and just, again, going back to recovery routine and hoping that things will get better,” he added.

“It’s kind of a gamble, that’s what the medical team told me. It’s really unpredictable, you can’t know what’s going to happen with you once you’re on the court.

“It could cause much more damage than it is at the moment, but it also could go in a good direction. So that’s something that I don’t know, and I don’t think I will also know until I stop taking painkillers.

“As long as I’m with high dose of painkillers, I still can bear some of the pain. But the tricky thing with the painkillers is that they kind of hide what’s really happening in there, so you might not feel it, but then the big damage might be done.

“But I’m fine with whatever is happening post-tournament because I’m going to take time off to heal properly before I step on the court again.

“I have talked a lot with my own medical team and also the medical team of the Australian Open. They all share the opinion that there is a slight, very slight, chance that I will make a significant damage that would take me out of the tour for some extended period of time.

“But they don’t think it’s going to be very significantly worse that it’s going to jeopardise my entire season.”

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(c) Sky Sports 2021: Australian Open: Novak Djokovic admits ‘gamble’ in continuing title defence