Australian Open: Djokovic cancels practice plan as title defence hangs in the balance

By Sports Desk February 12, 2021

Novak Djokovic insists there is a real danger he may withdraw from the Australian Open, with an ultrasound on an abdominal injury planned for Saturday.

The eight-time champion at Melbourne Park pulled off a dramatic five-set win over American Taylor Fritz to reach round four, but it came at what could prove a high cost.

After battling through two tight sets to forge ahead in the match, Djokovic was jolted early in the third by a sudden "tear", as he put it.

Although painkillers allowed him to continue and fend off a Fritz comeback, the world number one might be advised by doctors that his race in Australia is run for this year.

He is due to face Milos Raonic on Sunday in round four, and the Canadian is a player that Djokovic holds an 11-0 winning career record against. This time Raonic could be gifted a walkover.

Explaining the injury blow, and what comes next, Djokovic said: "Everything was working fine for me, and then beginning of the third set I made this quick move on the return going to the forehand, rotating there, and I just felt a tear, I felt something happen.

"Went out for medical timeout when I was tested, evaluated. I have huge pain, I took the highest dose of anti-inflammatories possible.

"It did kick in end of fourth, beginning of the fifth when I actually started to move and I could actually start to rally with him from back of the court.

"Until that moment, it was only serve for me and kind of hoping and praying that I'm going to get an easy ball after my serve so I could just go for it. That's what I've done.

"I honestly don't know how I won this match. I'm very proud, at the same time sad and worried, because it's definitely something serious happening with my injury.

"I don't have much time to recover for the next match. Definitely not training tomorrow [Saturday]."

The 33-year-old Serbian would not want to risk worsening the problem, given he has plenty to play for over the rest of the year.

However, he is chasing grand slam success wherever he can get it, given he trails Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal by three on the all-time list.

Djokovic's disqualification for hitting a ball that struck a line judge at the US Open last year was followed by defeat to Nadal in the French Open final, and now his luck may be out again.

Once the tests take place on Saturday, there should be a greater sense of clarity in Djokovic's mind.

Setting the scene for what should have been a relaxed day of practice but is now a crucial day in his championship, Djokovic stressed he hoped to be able to continue.

He said of his Saturday plan: "I'm coming here to evaluate more with the doctor and medical team, and do some ultrasound and understand what's really going on so that the doctor and medical team can prescribe best possible treatment and the only possible treatment that I could even have the slightest chance to go out in less than 48 hours."

Related items

  • Kyrgios' assault case adjourned until February on mental health grounds Kyrgios' assault case adjourned until February on mental health grounds

    Nick Kyrgios' lawyers will apply for the tennis star's assault charge to be dismissed on mental health grounds, an Australian court was told on Tuesday.

    Kyrgios was charged in July of this year in relation to the alleged assault of a former partner in January 2021.

    The 27-year-old, who has enjoyed a fine season in 2022, reaching the final of Wimbledon and the last eight at the US Open, was not present for a hearing in Canberra on Tuesday, as he features in the Japan Open.

    Michael Kukulies-Smith, who is representing Kyrgios, asked for the case to be adjourned so forensic mental health reports could be prepared.

    The case was duly adjourned to February 3, 2023 by magistrate Glenn Theakston. It is then expected Kyrgios' legal representatives will apply to have the case dismissed, with Kukulies-Smith stating he was making the application having reviewed Kyrgios' "medical history since 2015, including public disclosures of his mental health struggles".

    Australian law dictates that magistrates have the power to dismiss a charge if they believe an accused person is mentally impaired, and that dealing with a charge in such a manner would be of benefit to both the defendant and the community.

    Kyrgios could face two years in prison should he be handed a maximum sentence.

     

  • Rybakina through, Azarenka out in Ostrava as Stefanini surprises as Jasmin Open Rybakina through, Azarenka out in Ostrava as Stefanini surprises as Jasmin Open

    Elena Rybakina advanced to the last 16 at the Ostrava Open on Monday, but fellow former grand slam winner Victoria Azarenka exited at the first hurdle.

    Rybakina, who has struggled for consistency since victory at Wimbledon earlier this year, came back from a set down to dispatch Madison Keys with a 5-7 6-3 6-3 win.

    She could face eighth seed Jelena Ostapenko in the next round, but one name not in the draw will be Azarenka, who could not claw back victory against Ekaterina Alexandrova in a 6-4 4-6 2-6 defeat.

    Alexandrova is in line to play either Emma Raducanu or Daria Kasatkina in the next stage.

    Meanwhile, top seeds Iga Swiatek and Paula Badosa earned the identity of their opponents after receiving first-round byes.

    Swiatek will play Ajla Tomljanovic, who progressed in straight sets against Zhang Shuai, as Badosa faces Petra Kvitova, who was made to work a little harder in three by Bernarda Pera.

    At the Jasmin Open, third, fifth and seventh seeds Alize Cornet, Elise Mertens and Katerina Siniakova each advanced with respective straight-sets routs of Laura Pigossi, Jaqueline Cristian and Chloe Paquet – the latter retiring as she trailed 4-0 in the second set.

    But eighth seed Magda Linette is out after letting an early lead slip against Lucrezia Stefanini, who celebrated a 2-6 6-4 6-4 victory.

  • Rublev cruises past Djere at Astana Open, Tiafoe through in Tokyo Rublev cruises past Djere at Astana Open, Tiafoe through in Tokyo

    World number nine Andrey Rublev comfortably beat qualifier Laslo Djere 6-4 6-3 to secure his place in the second round of the Astana Open.

    The fifth seed found a crucial break of serve when leading the opener 5-4 to take the first set in Kazakhstan, before winning the next three games to put himself in the ascendancy in the second.

    And despite a desperate last stand to stay in the match from Djere, Rublev held serve three times with relative ease to finish off his Serbian opponent.

    Eighth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime served 14 aces to Roberto Bautista-Agut's two in their first-round match, but it was the Spaniard who advanced with a 6-4 7-6 (8-6) success.

    Meanwhile, world number 10 Hubert Hurkacz overcame Francisco Cerundolo in straight sets.

    Adrian Mannarino, the runner-up in Astana in 2020, came from a set down to beat Stan Wawrinka – playing as a wildcard – 1-6 6-2 6-3, and qualifier Zhizhen Zhang romped to victory with a superb third set to seal a 4-6 6-4 6-1 comeback win of his own over Aslan Karatsev.

    At the Tokyo Open, fourth seed Frances Tiafoe cruised into the second round with a 6-3 6-4 triumph over Yasutaka Uchiyama, one of three Japanese players who crashed out at the first-round stage of their home tournament.

    Uchiyama's countrymen Taro Daniel and Shintaro Mochizuki also tasted defeat at the hands of Bernabe Zapata Miralles and Brandon Nakashima, respectively.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.