Novak Djokovic has said that he would not be competing at the Australian Open on account of injury if it wasn’t a Grand Slam.
The world number one, who is bidding for a ninth win at the Australian Open, picked up a stomach injury in his win over Taylor Fritz on Friday, and on the brink of his match with Milos Raonic there was doubt as to whether he would take to the court in the fourth round.
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Djokovic was given a severe test, but got through in four sets despite looking in pain on occasions – particularly when stretching wide on the forehand wing.
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“It was good enough to compete, to play,” Djokovic said of his injury in the Eurosport Cube following his 7-6 4-6 6-1 6-4 win over Raonic.
“Obviously I wouldn’t be here, standing, talking to you guys if I wasn’t in the condition that is sufficient to get myself on the court and give myself a chance to compete and win a match.
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“It is not ideal, I have felt better.
“I did not have much of a preparation for this match and did not hit tennis balls since two nights ago against Fritz.
“I have warmed up a couple of hours and wanted to see my condition.”
Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou has suggested Djokovic is good at playing possum, but the 33-year-old told Eurosport the pain is so severe that he would have withdrawn were it not a major.
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“If I wasn’t in the condition I would pull out, so there was a big cloud of doubt over whether I would play or not,” he said. “But it’s a Grand Slam and for me at this stage of my career this means everything. There are four events a year that I give everything I have in me to compete.
“If it was any other tournament I’d probably not be playing.
“Right now, in my head, it’s all about recovery to be honest. I’m not really thinking about any training, I just really want to try and feel better and better as this tournament progresses.
“Because I am under painkillers for 48 hours, very strong ones, I don’t know exactly the damage has been done but there is always the chance to do more damage to what it was previously because when you play a match you can’t control your body, you are going for it, you are not thinking about I shouldn’t play at this point or that point.
“I’m also quite an aggressive player in terms of movement, I slide a lot, so that doesn’t help with this kind of injury.”
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Djokovic will meet Alexander Zverev in the quarter finals, following the German’s straight-sets win over Dusan Lajovic, and he will put everything into recovering to be a position to compete.
“I went to sleep around 4 or 430am after the last match [against Fritz],” he said.
“I don’t think it’s going to be anything different tonight, maybe even longer. As I said, in the next 48 hours the number one priority is to get as much recovery as possible and collect all the possible energy for the next match.”
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