Boris Becker on claims Novak Djokovic is ‘bluffing’ with Australian Open injury
Novak Djokovic has been struggling with a leg problem at the Australian Open, yet some of his critics have been quick to suggest the injury is not as bad as he claims.
Djokovic has faced persistent accusations on social media that he is exaggerating a hamstring problem that he overcame to beat Grigor Dimitrov to seal a place in the last-16 in Melbourne.
The nine-time Australian Open champion has suggested he came close to pulling out of the tournament before it started due to the problem and now the Serbian’s former coach Becker has given his verdict.
Speaking to Eurosport, tennis legend Becker suggested claims that Djokovic is “bluffing” with his injury are wide of the mark.
“I’ve known him for a long time and I know that he has problems,” said Becker.
“Novak can grit his teeth when it comes to important points, but he also lets it go in less important moments.
“Sometimes you think he’s bluffing or can’t finish the game. It’s a bit of heaven and hell. That also makes it difficult for the opponent. But Novak wouldn’t behave like that if he had nothing.”
Becker also suggested Djokovic’s problems are forcing him to change his tactics as he looks to win a tenth Australian Open title.
“Novak is now going for the quick points,” he added. “That starts with the serve, because he’s also taking more risks on the second (serve).
“In the rallies he tried to dominate with his forehand. It was an interesting match, with ups and downs.
“Dimitrov had what it takes to beat Djokovic, but he was better in the decisive moments.”
Djokovic admitted after needing a medical timeout and dropping a set to French qualifier Enzo Couacaud that he was concerned, and a clash with 27th seed Dimitrov was a much better test of his physical condition.
He took another timeout after falling to the floor at the side of the court at the end of the first set but, despite continuing to limp and looking uncomfortable at times, clinched a 7-6 (7) 6-3 6-4 victory.
Djokovic said: “It kind of always starts well and then some movement happens and then it gets worse. Pills kick in, some hot cream and stuff, that works for a little bit, then it doesn’t, then works again. It’s really a roller coaster, honestly.
“It requires a lot of energy that is being spent from my side mentally and physically, as well, to deal with the match with my opponent and also with a not-ideal physical state.
“But it is what it is. It’s kind of circumstances that you have to accept. I’m just very grateful that I’m actually able to play. The way it looked just before the tournament started, I thought that it wouldn’t be possible.
“I’m still here and still holding on. I don’t know what awaits, but I do hope and I have faith for the best.”
It was only two years ago that Djokovic tore an abdominal muscle during the tournament yet still managed to win a ninth title, and none of his rivals will be expecting him to give up the chance of a 10th without an almighty battle.
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