Due to his visa issues, Novak Djokovic could not defend the Australian Open title this January, staying on nine Melbourne Park trophies. A year ago, the Serb dealt with his rivals and an abdomen injury since the third round.
Novak struggled but overcame all the issues to emerge at the top and claim the 18th Major crown. Djokovic experienced an abdomen injury in the third round against Taylor Fritz, taking a medical timeout and struggling in sets three and four before raising his level in the decider.
World no. 1 could not train ahead of his next two matches, the crucial ones in his quest. Djokovic's coach Goran Ivanisevic said he feared the encounters against Milos Raonic and Alexander Zverev the most, as Novak struggled on the return following that injury.
Djokovic did not know what to expect against Raonic two days after experiencing a torn muscle.
Novak Djokovic struggled with an abdomen injury at Australian Open 2021.
Spending almost seven hours on the court against two young Americans in the previous rounds, Novak endured another challenging effort to beat the Canadian 7-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 in just under three hours.
Novak failed to break Milos' serve in the opening two sets, winning the first in the tie break and shifting into a higher gear from the third to leave the rival behind and enter the quarters. Still not at 100%, Djokovic faced Alexander Zverev in a battle for the semis, with another three and a half hours marathon standing in front of the eight-time Melbourne winner.
Alexander had the advantage in three out of four sets and won the opener to pressure Novak. Despite that, the Serb emerged at the top again and scored a 6-7, 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 triumph in three and a half hours for a place in the last four.
Feeling better, Novak defeated Aslan Karatsev and Daniil Medvedev in straight sets to secure the ninth Australian Open title and improve his score in the post-quarter-final Melbourne Park matches to 18-0. "Novak suffered that injury in the middle of the tournament, with four tough and extended matches.
Novak was aware of the consequences, but he continued, saying he came to fight for the trophy. A strong mind carried Novak through those difficulties. I feard Milos Raonic and Alexander Zverev the most, as the injury was still fresh.
Novak suffered the most during the return, and both Milos and Alexander serve incredibly strong. After he passed those obstacles, Novak defeated Aslan Karatsev and set the title clash against Daniil Medvedev, the world's best player from the last three months.
Novak proved to be too strong on his favorite court where he never lost after the quarter-final," Goran Ivanisevic said.