Djokovic still looking for that ‘freedom’ in his movement after two rounds at Wimbledon

Novak Djokovic says he’s still struggling with his surgically repaired right knee, but believes he’ll get better with each test he passes at Wimbledon.

Djokovic return Wimbledon 2024 Antoine Couvercelle / Panoramic

It’s not a cause for alarm. It’s to be expected.

Novak Djokovic admitted today after his difficult four-set encounter with British wild card Jacob Fearnley that he is still lacking explosivesness, speed and agility in his surgically repaired right knee, but he said it with determination and comfort in the knowledge that he can improve with each passing round at these Championships.

“I do feel that has an impact on my movement a little bit in terms of the speed,” he told reporters. “It’s not yet there where I want it to be. Kind of late on the balls that I’m normally not late on. That’s the part which I guess comes with matches. So the longer I stay in the tournament, I think the better the chances that my movement will improve.”

Though he struggled today, in windy conditions, he is relatively pain-free, and still has time to improve his form. Djokovic, who will face Alexei Popyrin in the third round, says that he never expected his return from a knee surgery that took place exactly a month ago, to be easy.

“The earlier rounds is where I’m still a little bit rusty on the movement, I think,” he said. “That’s what I felt today, at least. But yeah, I don’t worry about reinjuring my knee. I don’t have time nor energy to think about it, nor do I think it’s worth it. I wouldn’t be here unless I think that – not just myself, but the whole team – that I’m ready to compete at this level.”

The 37-year-old seven-time Wimbledon champion believes he will feel better with each passing round.

“It’s still not there”

“As the tournament progresses, as I said, the more matches I have, the better the chance I’ll have to feel more comfortable moving around and gain that speed, agility, change of direction, that freedom that I’m looking for, really,” he said. “I had it in certain moments today, certain moments in the first match, but then it’s still not there. In a way, it’s expected and normal when you come back from surgery, the body’s trying to understand what’s going on. Very early after surgery, already competing at the highest level on a surface that is, again, slippery. Kind of have to be careful with the way you move at times.”

Novak Djokovic - Wimbledon 2024
Novak Djokovic – Wimbledon 2024 – © Action Plus / Panoramic

No pain, but a struggle

Djokovic gave a full breakdown of the sensations he has been feeling, saying it’s all part of the process.

“I’m not feeling the pain, but I’m struggling a little bit with movement,” he said. “That’s fine. That’s something that is workable. I can work on it on a daily basis. But it’s going to have the biggest effect on matches. The more matches, the more of those type of situations I have, the better I will play and move. 

“I didn’t experience any pain today. The first match I did have one or two situations. Today none, which is great. My knee has been responding really well in the days off, as well. I haven’t had any swelling, inflammation, so that’s great. The muscles around it are contracting and getting sore more than usual because they’re compensating and protecting the knee, which is normal. There’s more work on those muscles. Maybe because they are sore, they’re also not really giving me that kind of dynamic speed and power that I need and want to have. But it’s all part of the process on the opening days. As I said, first two, three matches is probably something that I have to accept as part of the process. Hopefully I can go through and then build from there.”

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