Novak Djokovic claimed his ninth Australian Open title two weeks ago, overcoming an injury and seven opponents to lift the 18th Major crown. In the third round, Novak suffered an abdomen injury at the beginning of the third set versus Taylor Fritz, taking a medical timeout and prevailing in five sets to remain on the title course.
World no. 1 couldn't train ahead of his next two matches, and those proved to be crucial 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.
Novak couldn't practice after that Fritz match and didn't know what to expect against Raonic two days later following a torn muscle. 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 couldn't 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 the battle for the semis, with another three and a half hours marathon standing in front of the eight-time winner.
Goran Ivanisevic spoke about Novak Djokovic's challenging Melbourne matches.
Alexander had the advantage in three out of four sets and won the opener to pressure Novak. The Serb emerged at the top once again when he needed to and scored a 6-7, 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 triumph in three and a half hours for the 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 matches that lasted three hours or more.
He was aware of the consequences, but he continued, saying that he came to lift the trophy. His 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, proving once again that he is the player to beat," Goran Ivanisevic said.