Australian Open: Novak Djokovic discusses injury issues
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Novak Djokovic’s 100 per cent final record at the Australian Open should certainly have Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas concerned. Both men will face off in the semi-finals of the tournament on Friday looking to set up a mouthwatering showdown with the Serb. But Djokovic, definitely, is the favourite to lift the prize.
There was to be no Australian Open fairytale on Thursday morning.
Djokovic ruthlessly ended Aslan Karatsev’s fine run, beating the Russian 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 to make the final of the competition.
It was a vintage display from the world No 1, who won 88 points and dropped just nine games throughout the showdown.
Lying in wait is a match against either Medvedev, who overcame Andrey Rublev on Wednesday, or Tsitsipas – who came from behind to stun Rafael Nadal.
But both men should be concerned about Djokovic’s 100 per cent record in finals played Down Under.
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The 33-year-old called the Rod Laver Arena his ‘home’ at the start of the competition and, over the years, it’s certainly been kind to him.
Djokovic’s first final was against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2008.
He was far too strong for the Frenchman, prevailing in four sets to win 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 to kickstart his quest for Grand Slam dominance.
He was back three years later, ruthlessly dispatching Andy Murray in straight sets to claim the prize.
In 2012, Djokovic was pitted against Nadal in the final.
It was a gruelling contest, one for the ages, with the Serb battling his way to a 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7, 7-5 triumph.
Triumph number four came the following year. Murray again fell, with the Brit losing in four sets as Djokovic, once again, reigned supreme.
In 2015 and 2016, Murray also lost. Djokovic won the tournament both years, playing some sublime stuff with the Brit winning just one set across both matches.
There was to be no glory Down Under in 2017 or 2018, with the 33-year-old making rare exits at the second and fourth rounds respectively.
But, in 2019, Nadal was blitzed in straight sets.
And, just last year, Djokovic survived a major scare to see off Dominic Thiem in the final – winning 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Those numbers, and those victories, suggest Medvedev and Tsitsipas aren’t just outsiders to win the Australian Open – they’re extreme outsiders.
And, ominously, Djokovic has claimed injury won’t prevent him from operating at the peak of his powers on Sunday.
“Well, yes and no,” Djokovic said at his post-match press conference.
“I am surprised the way I felt tonight. I think it surpassed, in a way, my greatest wishes and the way I wanted to feel.
“But at the same time, you know, I did have a kind of similar experience in the past where I was managing to recover pretty quickly.
“You know, each one of us players is different. I just have, of course with the help of all the people around me, this pretty good way and ability to recover fast.
“But I didn’t think that I’ll play without pain tonight.
“And I did play without pain, which is something that definitely surprised me in a positive way.”
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