Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic accepts he made his abdomen tear worse by playing on to win the tournament in Melbourne.
The world number one began struggling with the problem in the third round, but fought on before eventually producing an emphatic 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 win over Daniil Medvedev in Sunday’s final.
But his ninth Melbourne trophy came at a cost, as Djokovic told reporters a second scan of his stomach has shown the injury could have been reduced by stopping, as he threatened to do after he beat Taylor Fritz on the fifth day of the tournament.
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"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 said, while parading his trophy in the Melbourne suburb of Brighton.
It's not too bad judging by what the doctor said, but I'll have to take some time off and heal. The tear is bigger.
It was a whirlwind trip to Australia for Djokovic, who began preparations by criticising the conditions of mandatory quarantine, which did not go down well with locals who have adhered to strict coronavirus conditions.
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"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.
Djokovic said his celebrations have mellowed from his younger days of “discotheques and nightclubs and god knows what”, revealing he simply called his family and went for a meal with cake following his 18th Grand Slam victory - which puts him just two titles behind men’s joint record holders Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.