‘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 angrily denied he has been exaggerating his hamstring injury as he prepares for the Australian Open last eight.
The nine-time champion told Serbian media he was being singled out for criticism around the leg issues he has been suffering, up until his demolition of Australia’s Alex de Minaur in the fourth round.
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 just five games.
Novak Djokovic has angrily hit back at claims that he’s been exaggerating his hamstring injury
‘Only my injuries are questioned,’ said Djokovic, who faces Andrey Rublev this morning.
‘When other players are injured, then they are the victims. When it is me, I am faking it. It is very interesting, I don’t feel I need to prove anything. I have got the MRI and ultrasound both from two years ago and now. Whether I will publish that in my documentary or on social media depends on how I feel.
‘I am not interested what people are 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 situations. But I’m used to it, and it gives me extra strength and motivation. So I thank them for that.’
Djokovic feels he is being singled out for innuendo around the leg issues he has been suffering
In past tournaments, the severity of injuries to Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray in particular have also been subject of speculation.
Australian doubles legend Todd Woodbridge and former player Mark Philippoussis had, prior to the De Minaur match, expressed the view there was not a great deal wrong with Djokovic.
According to two sources, the 35-year-old Serb was involved in a heated locker-room exchange over the weekend with a team member of one player, who suggested he was not as hurt as his on-court demeanour and treatments were hinting at.
Serbian has taken medical timeouts in his round two and three matches at the Australian Open
The easily defeated De Minaur also said he had seen nothing wrong with Djokovic. The Australian chose his words carefully, saying: ‘Everyone’s seeing what has been happening over the last couple of weeks.
‘It’s the only thing everyone’s been talking about. I was out there against him. Either I am not a good enough tennis player to expose that, or… it looked good to me.’
Meanwhile, the Russians and Belarusians are causing a stir in Melbourne with three of them, and counting, into the men’s and women’s singles semi-finals.
However, the nine-times Melbourne champ was back to his destructive best against De Minaur
Karen Khachanov became the first man through to the last four after he ended the chances of Seb Korda emulating his father’s Melbourne title of 25 years ago.
Khachanov will meet Stefanos Tsitsipas and his compatriot Rublev faces Djokovic in the quarter-finals. Belarusian Victoria Azarenka has set up a semi-final with Elena Rybakina, who switched allegiances to Kazakhstan but was born in Moscow.
Aryna Sabalenka, also from Belarus, is facing Donna Vekic for a place in the last four.
De Minaur has questioned how bad his hamstring could have been for him to perform so well