Australian Open - Novak Djokovic digs deep despite injury and reach fourth round on night of drama
It wasn't always easy for Novak Djokovic but eventually the world number one made it through to the fourth round of the 2021 Australian Open. Djokovic had to battle to hold off injury, a delay when fans were ejected due to a new lockdown and a resurgency from Taylor Fritz but eventually the best player in the world was able to make it through in yet another fascinating five-set thriller.
Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates after winning against Taylor Fritz of the US during their men's singles match on day five
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Fritz pounced, taking the next two sets, during which there was a break for the spectators to leave the stadium due to the new lockdown in Victoria, but there was something different about Djokovic in the final set.
In the end it was Djokovic who took the win, breaking twice in the final set, and he let out a series of gutteral roars, showing just how much the win meant to him.
"Well obviously mentally and emotionally, I feel great," Djokovic said in the Eurosport Cube after the game.
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“It’s a huge relief to pull this one through in these kinds of conditions I found myself in ... it was one of a kind type of match, for me, that’s what I said on the court, and I really mean it.
It’s one of the best moments I’ve had in my career under these kinds of circumstances
“Obviously I don’t want to talk about the intensity, or the level of injury, or the pain, it’s not going to matter much because people don’t understand what you go through on the court.
Highlights: Djokovic overcomes injury to beat Fritz and reach fourth round
“The way it felt at the beginning of the third set, when I got my first medical timeout, I was debating really strongly in my head to retire the match after two games, because I just couldn’t move, I couldn’t rotate, I couldn’t return, the only thing I could do is serve, and that’s what got me out of the trouble ... I knew my only chance is if I serve well and put pressure on his service games, which happened.
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“And whatever is happening here [the injury] got better in the fifth, and I could start to play, and return a few serves.”
Djokovic sounded a warning ahead of his fourth-round match by stating that the injury appears to be a tear, seemingly threatening his ongoing participation in the tournament.
“I’m obviously very, very proud of this but at the same time also a bit worried because I don’t know what’s going on and I think it’s a tear," he said.
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“I had a kind of weird feeling on one of the returns just before I got a medical time out and I knew right away that something not so great is happening.
“It was confirmed by a physio from the ATP, but let’s see. I don’t know. I don’t have a great experience with tears in terms of continuing in the tournament, so that’s something which is kind of in the clouds for me at the moment, whether I’m going to step out on the court in two days.