“The intensity of the pain worsened” : Djokovic “worried” before third round

The 21-time Grand Slam champion was in evident discomfort with the leg problem that has been plaguing him

Novak Djokovic Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia – January 19, 2023 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic reacts during his second round match against France’s Enzo Couacaud (AI/Reuters/Panoramic)

Novak Djokovic needed some additional medical treatment during his second-round match at the Australian Open against France’s Enzo Couacaud – and revealed to broadcasters afterwards that the hamstring problem he is suffering is getting worse.

“To be honest it’s not good at all,” he told Eurosport’s Barbara Schett. “It was better last match, the feeling, than tonight. That’s all I can say now. It’s really up to God to help me – and the physio! Let’s take it day by day. I hope I’ll be able to recover and be ready for a tough match-up next match.”

The Serb had admitted that he had hoped to get through the match in three sets to give himself a break – but was quick to praise his opponent.

“I’m glad to get through this kind of match in four sets – I wanted to get through in three, but credit to him for playing some good tennis,” he said.

The 35-year-old elaborated in his press conference, saying: “I am worried. I mean, I cannot say that I’m not. I have reason to be worried.

“But at the same time I have to accept the circumstances and try to adjust myself with my team. My physio and medical team has been doing everything possible so that I can be able to play every match.

“There’s not much more to talk about. There’s two choices: leave it or keep going. So I’m going to keep going. I’m going to try to play and compete with, of course, a great player Dimitrov in a couple days’ time.

“I know matches are only going to get tougher for me from here. Two years ago I had kind of similar circumstances here in Australia with a different muscle where I had a tear and I had to deal with that. Somehow I pushed it through and won the tournament.

“But it’s different now, obviously. I don’t know how my body’s going to react. I hope for the best. I hope for the positive outcome. I’ll take it day by day, match by match, and see how it goes.”

And he told Serbian reporters in their language: “The first match went better in terms of injury, that is for sure. Today, the intensity of the pain worsened as the match went on, especially from the middle to the end of the second set. During the medical time out, I went outside, I changed my bandage and took some medications. Pills started to work in 20-30 minutes, so in the third and fourth set I could move better. I still didn’t hit all the balls the way I wanted to, I was not at 100%, and sliding particularly causes me problems. I felt pain with many strokes, but it was bearable pain, excluding some really extreme balls and positions.

“I had to start striking freely, I had to be aggressive. I did not want to get stuck in the long exchanges, I was trying to shorten the points and it worked. He began the third set a bit tight, so I broke him, which helped me mentally a lot.”

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