Australian Open: Novak Djokovic discusses injury issues
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Novak Djokovic has claimed his victory over Alexander Zverev in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open was a big turning point for himself. The Serb has since beaten Aslan Karatsev to make the final. And he’ll go up against either Daniil Medvedev or Stefano Tsitsipas on Sunday as he hunts down Grand Slam No 18.
Djokovic has had to battle against injury but is now just one win away from yet another Australian Open triumph.
The Serb has survived some major scares against the likes of Frances Tiafoe, Taylor Fritz and Zverev but still remains on course for another major.
And Djokovic, speaking ahead of Sunday’s final, has revealed his victory over Zverev was a big turning point in his quest for more Grand Slam glory.
“I knew that once I triumphed over Zverev that, you know, things will be better, will get better for me – I just had that kind of inner feeling and proved to be right,” he said.
“[I’ve] definitely had to stretch myself to the limit in the last five days in every sense, but I’m really pleased that in terms of injury and everything – it’s going in the right direction.
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Ominously for whoever he faces, Djokovic also feels ‘great’.
“Being in this situation before for many times I think helps kind of gather all the necessary elements for me to peak at the right time,” he said.
“Which is happening again, which I’m very obviously happy about. I’m feeling great on the court.”
Djokovic had big praise for Karatsev after his win over the Russian on Thursday.
He said: “I expected Aslan to play on a high level, I’ve seen him play against really high-ranked opponents in this tournament.
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“He played great. He just strikes the ball so well and he is very strong physically, he’s a big guy, he has a very good serve and he picks up most of the returns and plays it flat straight under your feet so you have got to be ready and I think I executed my game plan and tactics I set up with my coach really well.
“It was an even match until 3-3, 4-3 in the first.
“He then played a sloppy-ish game, with new balls, 4-3, I made him play, I mixed up the pace of the ball.
“I wanted him to always have a different rotation on the ball coming from my side and never really know what is coming. I didn’t want to play predictable and it worked very well.
“Aslan was hitting very flat and deep in the court so I just wanted to give myself slightly more space between my racquet and the ball.
“I just wanted to be patient and constructive in the play, not really going for anything spectacular if I’m not in the right position on the court and if I don’t have the right ball.
“I thought I came out really strong, solid, no pain, just moved very well and everything worked terrific. I’m really pleased with the performance.
“I think today was my best performance of the tournament so far, the best I have felt on the court, the best I was hitting the ball.
“It came at exactly the right time, just before the most important match, and it’s going to be a tough one with Tsitsipas and Medvedev both in great form.
“Both playing terrific tennis. I’m going to enjoy watching their match tomorrow with my team and coach and analyse.
“I’ll then get on the practice court the next day before the finals and depending on who I play I’ll work on specific things.
“Really the priority now is recharging the batteries, feeling recuperated for the finals, I’ve had enough hits, enough practices, enough match play and I’m ready.”
Djokovic has never lost a final in Melbourne.
He has won the prize eight times in the past, beating Dominic Thiem in the 2020 final and winning it for the first time in 2008 with victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
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