Coach Petar Popovic believes Novak Djokovic only took the risk of playing injured at the Australian Open because it was a Grand Slam tournament. In the first week of the season, Djokovic sustained a hamstring injury during his Adelaide semifinal match against Daniil Medvedev.
After Djokovic captured a record 10th Australian Open title, Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley revealed the Serb played with a 3cm hamstring tear. Popovic currently works with Corentin Moutet. “If it hadn't been a Grand Slam, Novak wouldn't have played.
But since he is chasing records in the race for the best of all time, he took that risk and did an incredible thing. There is a lot of at stake to become the GOAT, you have to make this sacrifice. Novak knows that Australia is the Major where he plays best.
It's the same for Rafa at Roland, his garden. He won't do that at Wimbledon. It's normal I think. But they're not the only ones doing this. At least 50% of guys have a problem arriving at a Grand Slam. Many play with painkillers," Popovic told L'Equipe, per We Love Tennis France.
Djokovic's coach Goran Ivanisevic: Many would have just pulled out
Djokovic's movement didn't look really well in the first week of the Australian Open. But with the help of his physio, Djokovic's condition improved and he looked much better in the second week.
After Djokovic defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Australian Open final, his coach Ivanisevic said 97% would have simply pulled out of the tournament. "I will not say 100%, but 97% of the players on Saturday when you get the results of the MRI you go straight to the referee's office and pull out.
But not him. He's from a different species. He's getting crazier and crazier, I can say it laughs. It's a no end of the field of crazyness, in a positive way I mean. The guy is unbelievable, I don't know how to describe him. I thought I had seen everything, but then I see this (as) unbelievable," Ivanisevic said after Djokovic won the Australian Open.