After winning his ninth Australian Open title, Novak Djokovic will have to spend some time on the sidelines recovering from an abdominal injury, saying the muscle tear is bigger than what it was.
The World No 1 picked up the injury during his third round contest against America’s Taylor Fritz last Friday.
“I just came actually came from another MRI that I’ve done this morning and the damage is bigger than what it was when it happened, when I did the first MRI after the third round,” he told reporters on Monday.
“It’s not too bad judging by what doctor said but I’ll have to take some time off and heal. The tear is bigger.”
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The 33-year-old scored an emphatic 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Daniil Medvedev at Rod Laver Arena in Sunday’s final to close in on the record for most major titles: Djokovic now has 18 while Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are tied on 18.
Djokovic did the trophy photo call on Monday morning on the beach in the Melbourne suburb of Brighton.
The ups and downs of what he described as a “rollercoaster” of a trip Down Under had made his 18th Grand Slam title triumph all the more satisfying.
“I reflect on it as a great experience, and a unique journey, and I would definitely remember and try to take out a lot of positives from it,” he said.
“I have learned a lot of lessons, and learned a lot of things, about myself and about everything that was going on in the last five to six weeks, but I think that everything that was happening on and off the court makes this victory even better and even sweeter.”
The World No 1 had come under fire for sending tournament director a ‘letter of suggestions’ for players in hard quarantine before the Melbourne major.
Later, Djokovic faced the wrath of fans over the world as they accused him of ‘faking’ the injury. The Serb showed little signs of discomfort during the semifinal and final, both of which he won in straight sets.
“I know there have been a lot of speculations. People questioning whether I’m injured, how can I recover so quickly, it’s impossible to do that. I get it, I mean, look everyone is entitled for their own opinion,” he said.
“Everybody has the freedom and the right to say what they want, and criticize others. I just felt like it was a bit unfair at times but it’s not the first, not the last time.
“Yeah, of course, it hurts. I’m a human being like yourself. Like anybody else. I have emotions. I don’t enjoy when somebody attacks me in the media openly and stuff. Of course, I cannot say I don’t care about it or whatever. Of course, it does. I have to be honest.
“But I think I’ve developed a thick skin over the years to just dodge those things and focus on what matters to me the most.”
The Serb added that though he did not feel ‘old or tired’ he will plan his calendar more carefully to make sure he peaks at the majors.