Novak Djokovic plays down injury concerns ahead of Australian Open

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PERTH: The 24-time major champion Novak Djokovic lost to Australian Alex de Minaur in the United Cup in Perth on Wednesday, his first loss on Australian soil since 2018.

Throughout the match, the Serbian suffered from a wrist ailment and was unable to perform at his peak in the RAC Arena. However, the World No. 1 in the ATP Rankings is unconcerned about where his game and physique are 11 days before the Australian Open begins.

“I knew that probably, (I am) not going to be at 100 per cent physically, emotionally, mentally game-wise in the opening week of a season. Neither did I expect that. I was not on my level, but it was just one of these days where I didn’t feel my best on the court, and (my) opponent played very well. That’s all I can say”, Djokovic said in his post-match press conference as quoted by ATP.

“I think I’ll be okay, to be honest. It did have quite an impact, particularly on the forehand and serve. I have plenty of time, I think enough time to get myself in the right shape for the Australian Open”, Djokovic added when asked about his wrist.

During the game, Djokovic was treated by the physio and Serbian captain Viktor Troicki. He was unable to turn the tables on de Minaur, who improved to 1-1 in the pair’s ATP Head2Head series.

Serbia fell out of the United Cup in the quarter-finals after Djokovic’s defeat and Natalija Stevanovic’s defeat to Ajla Tomljanovic. Djokovic will now focus on the Australian Open, which he has won a record ten times.

“[I will] just try to recover, with the wrist that I have been struggling with the last couple of days. Just following the routine of recovery and training and building the form for the Australian Open”, Djokovic said. “The process is not strange to me. It’s not unusual. I’ve been in this kind of situation so many times and I know what I need to do along with my team to get myself ready”, he added.

“The last two years I’ve been injured just before the Australian Open, and managed to win both Australian Opens. Sorry, the last two out of three years, 2021 and ’23. I hope that I will not be injured this time around. That’s what we’re going to work on, to get my body in the right shape, optimal state, so that I can perform at the high level throughout hopefully the entire Australian Open”, said the 24-time Grand Slam champion.

Djokovic won singles matches in the United Cup over Zhang Zhizhen and Jiri Lehecka, helping Serbia reach the quarter-finals of the 18-country mixed-teams event. The 36-year-old is thrilled to have begun the season with a national team appearance.

“This kind of atmosphere is really unique. Being in a team with both men and women tennis players from your country is something you don’t get to experience either playing Davis Cup or Billie Jean King Cup for women. So, this is probably the only competition where you can experience that mix, which is an official competition where you get points”, Djokovic said.

“It’s quite interesting. It’s nice to be able to represent your country, always an honour, and to share the locker room with others… I did enjoy it. I think it was a really good, cool atmosphere. We had fun and those kinds of memories stay with you forever”, he added. (ANI)

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