Novak Djokovic has shown that he cares a lot at these Australian Open. The world number 1, on the hunt for his ninth triumph at Melbourne Park, beat Milos Raonic in four sets despite an abdominal injury. After having risked a lot against Taylor Fritz in the previous round, the 33-year-old Serbian presented himself on the pitch in fair condition, managing to hurry up the practice without resorting to the fifth.
Speaking on Eurosport, three-time Happy Slam champion Mats Wilander explained how Nole desperately needs to win this tournament. Djokovic is at 17 Major, three points away from his eternal rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
The Swiss has been at a standstill for over a year and will turn 40 next August, while the Spaniard has Roland Garros on his side. Novak will try to clinch the title for the third consecutive time and has a positive record against Alexander Zverev (5-2 in head-to-head), who will be his next opponent in the quarter-finals.
Thanks to the new ranking system caused by the pandemic, the 17-time Grand Slam champion has an excellent chance of surpassing Federer's record by weeks at the top of the world ranking (whose normal course will resume in March).
Wilander on Novak Djokovic
"Novak Djokovic's not running out of time but he kind of needs to win this Australian Open to get a little closer to Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the race to be the best player in history" - Mats Wilander said.
Former British No 1 Tim Henman said: "I had a few elbow and shoulder injuries, they were the main ones for me. "As you say, sometimes if it's an issue with a joint, it can almost loosen up as the adrenaline starts flowing as you start warming up and it can get a little bit better.
It was interesting hearing Novak talking about a tear because if you've torn something, then I really don't think it looks good." Mouratoglou is an ardent admirer of Novak Djokovic and considers him to be a champion of the sport.
Sure enough, Djokovic has the trophies to back that claim, but that doesn’t mean Mouratoglou endorses everything the Serbian claims. He cited Djokovic as an example and credited the 33-year-old for playing through the pain in the third round of Australian Open 2021.
“A lot of players like to have little pain here and there, because it takes pressure off. Now, we’re talking about champions. And champions never escape pressure. They accept it, embrace it and learn to deal with it,” Mouratoglou said.