NBA

Zion out at least two more weeks as Pelicans franchise star recovers from hamstring injury

By Sports Desk January 24, 2023

The New Orleans Pelicans are taking a cautious approach to Zion Williamson's hamstring injury and announced Tuesday that he will be re-evaluated in two more weeks.

It was framed as a positive update for the Pelicans' franchise star, who was initially ruled out for at least three weeks after suffering the injury on January 4.

Three weeks have passed, and New Orleans released the results of their recent re-evaluation on Twitter.

It read: "Update on Zion: he was recently re-evaluated for his right hamstring injury. The re-evaluation showed that his hamstring is healing as expected, and progressing well with his recovery.

"He will continue his rehabilitation process, which includes strengthening his hamstring and gradually progressing to more movement. He will be re-evaluated again in two weeks."

That means it will be over a month between games for the top overall pick from the 2019 NBA Draft, who has had his career marred by injuries up to this point.

He managed only 24 games in his rookie season, and after appearing back on track with a spectacular 2020-21 campaign where he played 61 games and earned an All-Star appearance, he then went on to miss the entire 2021-22 season.

So far, he has suited up for 29 of the Pelicans' 47 games. They have gone 17-12 in those 29 contests, while posting a 9-9 record in fixtures he has been unavailable for.

One of the most dominant offensive forces in the sport, Williamson is averaging 26.0 points per game while shooting 60.8 per cent from the field. Of all players this season averaging at least 20 points per game, reigning back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic is the only other shooting at least 60 per cent (62.6).

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    The Serbian defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-5) at Rod Laver Arena on Sunday to draw level with Rafael Nadal on 22 grand slam crowns – a joint-record for male players.

    Djokovic dropped just one set across his seven matches in a dominant display down under, coming a year on from being deported from the country ahead of the 2022 edition.

    He was denied the opportunity to defend his title following a row over his COVID-19 vaccination status, which also saw him banned from entering the country until 2025.

    However, he had his visa ban overturned in November and made up for lost time, with his straight-sets win against Tsitsipas also seeing him regain the world number one spot.

    Djokovic broke down in tears after sealing victory in a little under three hours and then gave an emotional speech in his on-court interview.

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    "I want to thank all the people who made me feel welcome, made me feel comfortable to be in Melbourne and to be in Australia. 

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    "It's a long journey. Only the team and the family knows what we have been through in the last four or five weeks.

    "I would say this is probably the biggest victory of my life, considering those circumstances. Thank you so much – and hopefully see you next year."

     

    Djokovic landed his first Australian Open title 15 years ago and has now won 28 matches in a row at his favourite tournament.

    At 35 years, he is the third-oldest male in the Open Era to win the Australian Open singles title after Ken Rosewall and Roger Federer, another of his long-time rivals.

    Tsitsipas labelled his opponent as the greatest of all time after the match, and Djokovic also had some kind words to share as he backed the Greek to challenge in more majors.

    "Thanks so much for being so kind and respectful," Djokovic said. "On the court we are fierce competitors, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't respect each other.

    "I congratulate you on an amazing tournament. Tough luck tonight. This will not be your last grand slam final, you have a lot of time. 

    "You are one of the most professional players I know on the tour, and one of the most interesting."

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    The 35-year-old resisted a fightback from Tsitsipas by saving a set point in the second set on his way to a 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-5) victory at Rod Laver Arena as he made it 10 wins from 10 Melbourne finals.

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    Tsitsipas was aiming to become the 27th male singles champion in the opening major of the year, but he was under relentless pressure right from the off and a double fault in the fourth game handed his opponent the first break of serve.

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