Novak Djokovic’s place at the top of world tennis is once again indisputable after winning the Australian Open for a record ninth time, but he remains a target for criticism.
- Djokovic spoke to reporters the day after beating Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-2, 6-2
- Djokovic copped criticism for saying he had an abdominal tear after the third round
- He told reporters an MRI revealed the abdominal tear grew from 17 millimetres to 25mm
Over the past two weeks, people questioned the severity of an abdominal “tear” he said he picked up in a third-round win over Taylor Fritz.
As he continued to scythe through his competition at Melbourne Park, voices around the tennis world cast doubt on his story, with Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis apparently mocking him in a now-deleted Twitter post.
“I have no idea what he’s feeling or what he’s going through. I just heard he thinks he has a torn muscle. I didn’t mean it in a bad way at all,” Kokkinakis said when asked about his Twitter activity.
“I’m like, if he can recover from a torn muscle in two days, hats off. Teach me.”
“I copped abuse for it, but it wasn’t even taking a shot at him.” he added.
“If he actually has a torn muscle and can recover in two days, that’s impressive, because I haven’t been able to do that and it’s taken me months.”
A day after dismantling fifth seed Daniil Medvedev in the final, Djokovic revealed some more details of the injury, saying he had another MRI in the morning and the tear in his abdomen had grown from 17 millimetres to 25mm.
Djokovic said he had made peace with the fact “I can’t please everyone or be someone’s favourite tennis player”, but he could not deny the speculation about his injury got under his skin.
“I have feelings like anybody else and I don’t enjoy when someone judges or criticises or behaves unfairly before checking certain things and going out in public like that.
“But at the same time, I accept the fact that everyone is entitled to their own opinion.”
He also applied that logic to the moment on Sunday night when Tennis Australia chair Jayne Hrdlicka was booed for mentioning the COVID vaccine on stage.
Djokovic said “she did very well under those circumstances … to stay composed” but he would not be drawn on whether he would be open to getting the vaccine if it was required to return to Australia for the tournament next year.
“Let’s see what happens. There have been a lot of discussions about that but nothing is yet concretely said about that,” he said.
“There aren’t any rules or regulations in place from ATP or slams. So I’m just going to wait and see.”