It is already dawn in Melbourne and although they have won (6-1, 6-7(5), 6-2 and 6-0 to Enzo Couacaud) and progressed to the third round, thus discounting another season towards the title he craves so much, Novak Djokovic appears before journalists as if he had lost. He is sad, hurt and resigned. “I am worried, I cannot say that I am not. I have a reason to be, ”admits the Serb, who has been suffering from an injury to his right thigh since last week – produced while he was competing in Adelaide – and does not see anything clear. He has the opportunity to equal the 22 greats of Rafael Nadal, also bruised and already out of action, but the five scales that remain to find the trophy seem more than complicated and he grimaces when he speaks, as if he somehow knew that at one time or another, the damaged musculature is going to break.
“My situation is not ideal and I would like things to be different, but it is what it is and I have to deal with it day by day. The good thing about the Grand Slams is that there is a day of rest between one match and another, so there is some time to recover”, the man from Belgrade consoles himself, happy but not so much. Happy because he has returned to Australia after what happened a year ago, the arrest and deportation from the country prior to trial, but incomplete because his physique has failed him just when he was going to undertake the most determined approach of his career . He owns nine Australian titles and lacks cabinet space to stack all the metal, but he’s never had as deep a desire to hunt a new bounty as he does today. He aspires Nole to 22, but first of all he wants to seal the open wound a year ago at customs.
On Tuesday, the day of his debut, his seriousness throughout the entire evening was striking and this Thursday, even more. If the previous afternoon Nadal fell out of the tournament in a move, now he is the one who picks up his leg and activates all the alarms in a change of direction. The physio examines him on the bench and the doubt flies: How far does the injury go? At the moment, there are no leads. It is known that in the run-up to the tournament he suspended a training session and finally exercised, although at half speed and without the session lasting more than an hour. Now not even that, he says.
“Basically, I’m not training,” the tennis player confirmed to reporters, quoted in the next round with the Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, a “Balkan Brother (brother from the Balkans)” in the doldrums but which, nevertheless, will require him to raise the bar. That is, force more. Danger.
“We will try to find solutions to be able to play all the games. There are two options, leave or continue, and I continue. I know it’s going to get tougher as the days go on, but two years ago,” he recalls, referring to the triumphant run he completed despite competing with a torn abdomen, “I had similar circumstances here, with a different muscle, and I had to deal with it. Somehow I got over it and won the tournament.” So he dropped four sets en route, though in the final he bowed Daniil Medvedev with authority.
As he speaks, Djokovic draws several grimaces and cannot hide his concern. Four years ago, in 2019, a left shoulder setback forced him to withdraw while he was competing in the round of 16 at the US Open with Stanislas Wawrinka, after days of musing, suspicion and even accusations that he was faking it. “But you weren’t going to retire?” A New York fan recriminated him. “I’m going to find you,” replied the Balkan when facing.
protest by a fan
This time, in Melbourne, the one who drives him crazy is a man who tries to distract him and yells at him from the stands. “The guy was drunk to death,” he alleges after beating the 190th in the world with more trouble than expected. “From the first point he has been provoking me!”, He protested to the chair umpire for him to intervene and order him to be sent off, meeting with a refusal.
“He has not come to watch tennis, he just wanted to get into my head. He insulted me and provoked me, without any respect, and I said enough because I have a limit that he has crossed, that’s why I asked the referee if he was going to do something or not ”, exposes the man who monopolizes almost all eyes in the Men’s draw, from which the Norwegian Casper Ruud has already disappeared, the third player who aspired to assault Carlos Alcaraz’s number one along with Nole and Stefanos Tsitsipas.
To achieve this, the Serbian would have to win his tenth trophy in Melbourne, where Roberto Bautista remains the only Spanish male representative. The man from Castellón defeated the American Brandon Holt 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 and 6-2 and will face Andy Murray, while Pablo Carreño succumbed at 4h 11m against the Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi (4-6, 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-1 and 7-6(4). Alejandro Davidovich also lost (6-2, 2-6, 6-7 (4), 6-3 and 6-4 for Tommy Paul.) This morning, the Cantabrian Cristina Bucsa will challenge the number one in the world, the Polish Iga Swiatek.
MURRAY’S HISTORICAL COMEBACK IN THE LATER THIRD GAME: 4.06
AC | Melbourne
At 35 years old and with a titanium hip, Andy Murray continues to defy himself and all logic. The 35-year-old Scotsman managed to overcome the duel with the local Thanasi Kokkinakis after 5h 45m, in which it became the second longest match in the history of the tournament. The British won 4-7, 6-7(4), 7-6(5), 6-3 and 7-5 against the Australian, so he will face Roberto Bautista on Saturday.
Until today, the longest duel in the great Australian is the final played in 2012 between Nadal and Djokovic, decided in favor of the Serb after 5h 53m; It is also the longest final of a Grand Slam.
The duel played at the Margaret Court Arena – the second court of the tournament – ended at 4.06 in the morning in Melbourne and was registered as the third latest in history; They only surpass the late night that Alexander Zverev and Jenson Brooksby starred in last year in Acapulco, sealed at 4.54, and the Lleyton Hewitt-Marcos Baghdatis of 2008 in Australia, concluded at 4.34.
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