After winning the Australian Open , Novak Djokovic burst into tears in the arms of the team and said in a championship speech: “Only my team and family know what we have experienced in the last four to five weeks. And I would say that, given the circumstances, this is the biggest victory of my life.”
One of the main plots of the Australian Open was an injury to Djokovic’s left hip, which he received at the first tournament of the season in Adelaide. On Wednesday, competition director Craig Tiley revealed just how serious it was:
“He had a three-centimeter tear in the muscles of the back of the thigh. I saw the pictures, the doctors will tell you the truth. There’s been a lot of talk about whether it’s true or not – it’s hard to believe they’re doing what they’re doing with these injuries.”
Novak himself said that before the tournament he had big doubts that he would be able to perform at all. But he constantly worked with a physiotherapist and did not look beyond one match, constantly controlled his condition and just did everything he could at a particular moment.
Djokovic’s coach Goran Ivanisevic said after the tournament: “I’m not saying 100%, but 97% of the players after such MRI results immediately go to the judges’ room and are removed. But not Novak – he is from another planet. His brain works differently. I’ve been with him for four years, but he still never ceases to amaze me.”
According to Ivanisevic, the Serbian underwent 77 procedures a day – this is most likely an exaggeration, but Djokovic radically changed the approach to work during the tournament, of course, making recovery a priority:
• he did not practice much on weekends between matches;
• for all matches, except for the final, he went out with a completely taped thigh;
• as he put it himself, he spent more time on various medical devices than on the bed;
• took a lot of anti-inflammatory drugs;
• in the second and third rounds regularly called the physio on the court. According to him, he had problems after specific movements, so massage and pills were required;
• Playing style, he also adjusted a little, becoming the most aggressive. For example, he hit a forehand at an average speed of 130 km/h – at the level of the strongest players in the men’s tour.
According to Ivanisevic, the toughest match was the third round against Grigor Dimitrov, in which he was scared for Novak. But the Bulgarian did not take advantage of the opponent’s physical problems: “He just played wrong. Grigor and his coach simply did not have the right plan, the right tactics. Novak couldn’t move, and Grigor did maybe two or three dropshots in the whole match, and I would have done 300! But he is our Balkan brother, so he helped (laughs).”
And after the third round, the Serb got better. Then, until the end of the tournament, nothing hurt him, and he went to the final without a big bandage on his thigh – only with a kinesiology tape.
How can you play with a torn muscle is a difficult question. During the tournament, she could not recover. But with tears, a lot depends on the individual characteristics of the body and the location of the damage, and we don’t have such details yet. With a successful combination of circumstances, the injured muscle can be fixed from the outside with a tape.
Djokovic, by the way, is not the first time in such a situation. In 2021, he won the Australian Open with a torn abdominal muscle – and then he also worked 10 hours a day with physio. At the same time, the strain during the tournament still grew from 17 to 25 millimeters.
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