MELBOURNE, Australia – Novak Djokovic was wearing a tape over his right hip, and was wintering as he stretched for some shots in a three-hour match against Milos Raonic that goes into the records as his 300th win at major.
For anyone curious about the severity of his injury, he put it in context after qualifying for the finals of the Australian Open for the 12th time.
“If it’s any other competition other than Grand Slam, I would retire, pull out of the event, that’s for sure,” Djokovic said in a TV interview on the court on Sunday. after a 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6- Victory in the fourth round 1, 6-4. “When it warmed up it was fine. At the game it was very much on and off. ”
The eight-time Australian Open champion was expected to spend most of the next two days recovering from his quarter-final against Alexander Zverev in the sixth seed.
That’s pretty much how he spent his time after injuring his abdominal muscle in his five-set, third-round win over Taylor Fritz.
A lot of recovery, a lot of time getting physiotherapy and, he said, “different treatments with different devices. You know, just pills, cremation pills and stuff like that with the medical team … that helped a lot. “
He didn’t work Saturday – he said he didn’t hit a ball – and didn’t know until he warmed up three hours before his game against Raonic whether he would be fit enough to play the late Sunday game on Rod Laver Arena.
In the end, he looked okay as he extended his career climb to 12-0 against superstar Canada. He lowered his racket and blocked an advertising board in the first set, after which he watched how Raonic, the 14th seed, had his right ankle re-tapped during an outdoor medical in the first set. second one.
His move was not at the height of Djokovic, but he was good enough to score 41 winners and miss just one of his 20 service games. His loss-of-life record in the four tennis majors is now 300-45, making him the only one in addition to Roger Federer (362-59) who put together 300 trophies.
“I won the game against a good player,” said Djokovic, “and hopefully it will be even better in two days.”
Zverev’s U.S. final defeated Dusan Lajovic 6-4, 7-6 (5), 6-3, to move into the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park in back years.
The projected quarter-quarter in the upper region of the draw is distributed according to the seeding.
The other quarterfinal game in that half of the draw is one that no one has seen coming.
With a direct set win over Dominic Thiem with third seed, U.S. Open champion and Australian Open runner in 2020, Grigor Dimitrov went on to showcase performance by Aslan Karatsev.
Yes, that Karatsev – the 114th-placed Russian who is playing in his first Grand Slam tournament. Dimitrov doesn’t beat Thiem very upset.
The 29-year-old Bulgarian is rated at a level as high as No. 3, won ATP finals, and has already led his friend, Thiem, 3-2 in head-to-head positions, though their first meeting at a prime one.
Despite his long tennis ancestry, Dimitrov was never past the semifinals at Grand Slam. So be wary of someone like Karatsev.
“If you’re here, it’s for a reason – there’s no doubt about it,” Dimitrov said after a 6-4, 6-4, 6-0 win. “Whether it’s a fairy tale or not, it’s a game – you have to be ready. ”
Karatsev earlier defeated No. 1. 20 Felix Auger-Aliassime, coming back for a 3-6, 1-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 victory, to an earlier break on No. 8 Diego Schwartzman.
He had failed in nine previous bids to qualify for the Grand Slam, but finally won in Doha last month, when he was eligible to hold the Australian Open offshore for his. first due to restrictions in place for COVID-19 pandemics.
He is now just the third player to get this far in Australia in the professional era, the first from Goran Ivanisevic in 1989. Alex Radulescu at Wimbledon in 1996 was the last man to reach round of eight in his first Grand Slam show.
And not since Patrick McEnroe – John’s brother – in 1991 is a man as low as 114th made it to the Australian Open finals.
“I was working a lot, and it happened right now,” said 27-year-old Karatsev about his recent streak.
“It’s like you never know when it will happen. It happened here. ”
Thiem said he had a few issues on Sunday, but did not want to explain or use as excuses.
He was clearly still obese after coming from two sets down to beat Nick Kyrgios in Australia in five sets on Friday night.
“Some physical issues, as well as a really bad day, plus, well, he’s a good player,” Thiem said. “So a combination of these three things, and a result like that can happen.”
“It’s also a fact that I’m not a tool either,” he said. “I mean, sometimes I just want to be, but there are really bad days. ”