Novak Djokovic won a record 10th Australian Open title while nursing a hamstring injury, but not everyone is convinced about the validity of the injury.
Djokovic’s fourth round opponent Alex de Minaur said everything “looked good” during their match when asked about his injury, while pundit Todd Woodbridge suggested Djokovic was “playing up” his injury. Now, Djokovic’s second round opponent Enzo Couacaud has shared his thoughts on the matter, saying it seems “far-fetched” and “hard to believe” the Serbian could win the tournament with what tournament director Craig Tiley later said was a 3cm hamstring tear.
“Novak claimed he was playing with an injury, a big injury,” Couacaud told Tennis Actu. “When athletes are injured in combat sports, they often can’t continue. When Rafael Nadal is injured, he can’t run. Kylian Mbappe, for example, is out for two weeks.
“And those are the greatest athletes, not those who don’t have access to top-notch care. It is therefore difficult to believe that only one man in the world can continue with an injury.
“When you take the examples of Nadal or Mbappe, but especially Rafa, with an injury to Wimbledon, he couldn’t even serve. When you see the greatest who can’t set foot on the pitch and another who wins a Grand Slam by playing every day for 15 days. It still seems a bit far-fetched.
“There are little things that don’t make sense to me. I was always told not to stretch with an injury. You saw Novak stretching all the time. You say to yourself, either they have a new method in Serbia, or it’s weird. Little things like that, he has his staff, but I’m too far to judge the authenticity of anything. It is true that it seems hard to believe.”
Djokovic did hit back at those doubting the validity of his injury during the tournament, saying: “Let them continue to doubt. It’s interesting that only my injuries are suspected, but when other players get injured and it affects them, then they are the victims, and I’m a pretend player.
“I don’t feel like I have anything to prove to anyone. I have a recording and an MRA and an ultrasound which will prove it, whether I will publish it in the documentary, I don’t know, maybe, maybe I won’t.
“I am absolutely not interested in what people think, it is fun for me to continue the narrative [that is] different than some other players. I’m used to facing it, it motivates me and it gives me extra strength.”