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Practice cancelled, then rescheduled: another dramatic day in the life of Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open

The Serb sported tape on his left thigh and may have to nurse his injury in the early rounds

Novak Djokovic practice AO 2023 Novak Djokovic practice AO 2023 – © AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Midway through day one of the Australian Open and it was all going too well. The big names were winning without too much trouble and, for once, the first Grand Slam of the year had begun without a massive news story.

But it would not be an Australian Open if there were not some drama surrounding former world No 1 Novak Djokovic, and the Serb did not disappoint.

Having cancelled his practice on Sunday, he cancelled practice again on Monday. Surely he was not going to pull out, like Nick Kyrgios had done earlier in the day? After admitting his left hamstring was tight toward the end of his title win in Adelaide a week ago, Djokovic was nowhere to be seen and the rumour mill started whirring.

Journalists in the press room were trying to get clarification from Tennis Australia that he had indeed cancelled his practice. Yes, they were told. Did TA know why? No.

Eventually, Djokovic surfaced, but on one of the outside courts instead, practising in the evening, perhaps to replicate his start time on Tuesday, when he plays Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain in the night session.

Djokovic sported some tape on his left thigh.

As he left the court, Djokovic had some reassuring words for the fans who had assembled to watch him, as reported on social media by Tennis Majors’ own Sasa Ozmo.

“When the practice ended (Djokovic said): ‘thank you for coming, everything is OK, see you at the match’.”

Djokovic will need to nurse injury in early rounds

The drama was nowhere near on a par with last year, of course, when the Serb was denied entry to Australia and – after being forced to stay in a detention hotel as he awaited news of his appeal – eventually deported back to Serbia.

The previous year, Djokovic survived a rib injury that looked as if he it would force him to withdraw, and went on to win his record ninth title at Melbourne Park.

There are times when it seems like Djokovic thrives on drama, whether it be on or off the court, but this time, he’ll know that he will need to nurse his left thigh through the early rounds if he is to stand a chance of winning title No 10 and Grand Slam title No 22.

That would put him level with Rafael Nadal, the defending champion, and should be motivation enough to give it everything he has on a court he has made his own.

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