‘When others are injured, they are victims. When it is me, I’m faking it’: Novak Djokovic bites back at critics accusing him of exaggerating a hamstring injury, insisting he is using it as ‘motivation’ as he cruises into the Australian Open quarter-finals
- Novak Djokovic has angrily denied he’s been exaggerating his hamstring injury
- The Serbian crushed Alex de Minaur in the fourth round, losing just five games
- And the nine-time Melbourne champion is using the accusations as ‘motivation’
Novak Djokovic has angrily denied he has been exaggerating his hamstring injury as he heads into his Australian Open quarter-final.
The nine-times Melbourne champion told Serbian media that he was being singled out for innuendo around the leg issues he has been suffering, up until his fourth-round demolition of Australia’s Alex de Minaur.
Having needed running repairs during his previous matches this year there was suddenly no sign of any ill-effects as he allowed the world No 24 only five games.
Novak Djokovic has angrily hit back at claims that he’s been exaggerating his hamstring injury
‘Only my injuries are questioned,’ stated Djokovic, who faces Andrey Rublev on Wednesday evening (local time).
‘When some other players are injured, then they are the victims, but when it is me, I am faking it. It is very interesting, I don’t feel that I need to prove anything to anyone.
‘I have got the MRI, ultrasound and everything else, both from two years ago and now. Whether I will publish that in my documentary or on the social media, depends on how I feel. Maybe I will do I it, maybe I won’t.
‘I am not really interested at this point what people are thinking and saying. It is interesting to see how the narrative surrounding me continues, narrative that is different compared to other players that have been going through similar situation.
Djokovic feels he is being singled out for innuendo around the leg issues he has been suffering
Serbian has taken medical timeouts in his round two and three matches at the Australian Open
‘But I am used to it, and it just gives me extra strength and motivation. So I thank them for that.’
Over the years the severity of injuries during tournaments to Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray in particular have also been the subject of speculation.
Australian doubles legend Todd Woodbridge and former player Mark Philippoussis had, prior to the De Minaur match, expressed the view that there was not a great deal wrong with Djokovic.
According to two sources, at the weekend the 35-year-old Serb was involved in a heated exchange in the locker room with a team member of one player, who had suggested that he was not as badly hurt as his on-court demeanour and treatments were hinting at.
However, the nine-times Melbourne champ was back to his destructive best against De Minaur
After that he came out and hammered De Minaur, who stated in his post-match press conference that he had seen nothing wrong with his conqueror.
The Australian chose his words carefully, saying: ‘I think everyone’s kind of seeing what’s been happening over the couple weeks. It’s the only thing everyone’s been talking about. Today I was out there on court against him. Either I’m not a good enough tennis player to expose that, or… it looked good to me.’
On Tuesday, De Minaur took to Twitter to complain: ‘I hate how media will always create controversy and takes things out of context to make a headline.’
The last time Djokovic won the Australian Open, in 2021, he did so with a small tear in an abdominal muscle that caused similar discussion.
De Minaur has questioned how bad his hamstring could have been for him to perform so well
One of the players he beat over five sets during that run, Taylor Fritz, joined the debate: ‘Eighty per cent of players are always dealing with something (severity levels differ) but everyone is honestly always a little banged up… the media is only ever focusing on the top guys so their issues get more attention,’ he tweeted.
‘I don’t think it’s done in a bad sportsmanship kind of way, and before people get defensive, I’m not talking about anyone in particular, this is just what I see as a player, sometimes there are serious injuries, sometimes over exaggerated ones from people 1-500.’