Novak Djokovic hurts however do not depend him out on the Australian Open

MELBOURNE, Australia – The grimace on Novak Djokovic’s face after slipping to the white “MELBOURNE” script behind the baseline at Rod Laver Arena indicated that the world’s number 1 chances of winning his Australian Open title to defend had just suffered a severe blow.

In the third round at Melbourne Park on February 12, Djokovic appeared to be gaining a victory over American Taylor Fritz when he fell awkwardly and immediately signaled the coach. After a lengthy medical break, Djokovic returned to the court but appeared to be severely disabled in his movement and in severe pain.

The 17-time main champion constantly felt himself on the right side of his stomach, often trying to stretch it between points. He often winced when he found balls and gave up on many that were hit just yards from his racket.

In no time at all, Fritz was able to equalize the match to two sets per game, and for the first time in the tournament there should have been real concern in the Djokovic camp. But the Serb hit the decision maker 6: 2 and let out a huge roar in the courtyard when he secured the match point after three hours and 25 minutes.

“I know it’s definitely a muscle tear,” said a deflated Djokovic immediately after the game. “I don’t know if I can recover in less than two days. I’m not sure if I can play the next game.”

A correct diagnosis has yet to be published about 33-year-old Djokovic, which makes his health the biggest mystery on the middle weekend of the Australian Open. The question remains: would he continue his quest for a ninth record-breaking crown Down Under, and if not, who would win the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup?

Much of the speculation after defeating Fritz was that the muscle Djokovic injured was his right oblique, one of two diagonally aligned abdominal muscles that run from the rib cage to the front trunk or pelvis. For sports that require high rotation, such as B. tennis, these muscles are extremely stressed. And few, if any, in sports put more stress on their bodies than Djokovic.

According to Harvard Medical School, it takes an average of eight to ten weeks for a person to fully recover from an oblique crack. However, Djokovic only had 48 hours to qualify for his fourth-round game against Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic 2016.

Djokovic was out of the turf on day 6 but returned to a light training session that consisted of stretching and jogging on Sunday before entering the John Cain Arena that afternoon to score a training goal.

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A few hours later, he squeaked and slid through the Rod Laver Arena, once again mimicking the defensive properties of a wall, leaving Raonic scratching his head in a combination of disbelief and frustration. Djokovic may have been wearing a large anti-inflammatory patch on the right side of his stomach, but suddenly he looked more like the player we’ve gotten used to over the years. If the fans hadn’t known about his fall in the last game, they would never have thought it was a potentially serious injury.

It took Djokovic a little less than three hours to dispatch Raonic 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, record his 300th Grand Slam victory and the quarter-finals at the Australian Open for the 12th time to reach . How could he achieve such an achievement with what he thinks is a torn slant?

“The term ‘muscle tear’ can often set off alarm bells, but it is generally scalable and ranked from one to three,” said Stephania Bell, ESPN injury analyst. “Grade 1, which could be, indicates little to no structural damage and, while painful, cannot seriously affect function. Sometimes an athlete may feel a bang or a pull, and that is why it is referred to as such . ” a tear.

“A full tear would likely prevent him from playing, given the pain and functional tradeoff. Things that require strength, like serving, and things that stretch the muscles extremely, such as stretching too far to get a shot , maybe even some cross-body shots would be a challenge for Djokovic if he had a full-blown oblique crack. “

After beating Raonic, Djokovic confirmed that he had undergone an MRI in Melbourne and now knows the extent of the injury, although again he did not provide precise information. As long as he’s still in the tournament, he doesn’t want to share his diagnosis with his rivals.

“I understand you want to know, but I really don’t want to get into what it is,” he told the press. “It’s not ideal for me. I mean, I’ve definitely felt better. The combination of pain medication, treatment, and some willpower [is getting me through]but I don’t want to talk about it now. It is irrelevant. “

Djokovic’s ability to recover in such a short amount of time and then overcome Raonic caught the attention of many on the tour, including longtime trainer of Serena Williams, Patrick Mouratoglou.

“Sometimes Novak plays with an opponent’s mind when he’s in trouble,” Mouratoglou told Tennis Majors. “He pretends to give up and then boom. He’s playing again. He’s done that a lot in the past.”

Former Australian double icon Todd Woodbridge also stepped in, saying, “He’ll be fine. I would tell the rest of the field watch out because we’ve seen him do things like this one hiccup and always still win majors. “

It is not the first time that Djokovic has suffered an injury in a Grand Slam. At Wimbledon in 2017, he battled an excruciating elbow disease and still reached the quarter-finals.

At the 2019 US Open, he retired in the fourth round after a left shoulder injury defeated him while struggling with neck stiffness at last year’s tournament in New York to reach the fourth round. He dropped just one set in his first three games before punching a linesman in the throat against Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta in the round of 16.

Djokovic now meets Alexander Zverev, who defeated the 23rd seed Dusan Lajovic in straight sets. The winner advances to the semi-finals. With the extent of Djokovic’s injury still being a mystery, there is no guarantee he will be fit against the German, although many had similar thoughts before his game against Raonic.

“If it was a different tournament I would retire. I definitely wouldn’t play,” said Djokovic. “But it’s a Grand Slam. It’s very important to me at this stage in my career. I have to accept the circumstances and the state I’m in right now and that I will probably feel pain all the way through.”

“Against Sascha there will probably be more rallies, exhausting rallies. It will be demanding from my side, really from the back of the field. It is in God’s hands where my condition extends from today to the first point against Sascha [but] When I feel 10% I like my chances. “

If Djokovic actually tore his slant, regardless of the degree of injury, it will be a management case rather than having it fully healed before the tournament ends.

“Most of the time between the original injury and his next round is spent on recovery and treatment,” said Bell. “In view of the demands of a Grand Slam tournament, the challenge will be to reconcile relaxation while maintaining stamina and willingness to play.”

Djokovic’s record for the blue courses at Melbourne Park is 76-5, and after the fourth round he’s even more impressive at 24-3. Even if Djokovic is 75% healthy, he would probably still prefer to beat anyone who is left on his way to slam # 18.

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