Rumours swirl over Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open future

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic’s hopes of winning a tenth Australian Open title appear to be hanging by a thread as rumours swirl over his future in the tournament.

Djokovic went into the competition with a hamstring problem and that appeared to worsen during his 6-1 6-7 (5) 6-2 6-0 win against Enzo Couacaud on Thursday.

Speaking to Eurosport after the match, the 21-time Grand Slam champion commented on his injury as he said: “To be honest, it is not good at all. I will take it day to day.

“It was better last match, the feeling, than tonight, but that is all I can say and now it is up to God to help me and the physio and everyone.

“I hope I will be able to recover and be ready for a tough match next up.

“My situation with my injury is not ideal. I don’t want to go too deep into it, but the good thing is we have a day off in between the matches.

“I have time to recover and prepare for the next match. I am not practicing in the days between matches to give my leg a chance to perform at a high level.

“I am worried, I cannot say that I’m not. I have reason to be worried and I have to adjust myself and my team so that I can be able to play every match.

“There are two choices; leave it or keep going. I am going to try and stick with it. I’ll take it match by match and see how it goes.”

Now rumours are swirling that Djokovic may be struggling more than he expected ahead of his third round match against Grigor Dimitrov.

While his camp would not be drawn on suggestions Djokovic may be forced to withdraw from the Australian Open, it is clear that concern is growing around the nine-time champion in Melbourne.

He managed to win his most recent Australian Open title in 2021 despite a torn muscle in his stomach, but a hamstring injury will be tougher to manage.

Djokovic did not practice again on Thursday as he rested his injury, with tournament officials expecting the Serbian to take to Rod Laver Arena on Friday evening for the first match of the night session.

It is unusual for Djokovic to be so open about an injury problem and that suggests he is doubtful of completing the tournament, with tennis legend John McEnroe suspecting this injury will be too much for the favorite to lift the title to overcome.

“There’s a pretty good chance it won’t hold up,” McEnroe told Eurosport, discussing Djokovic’s injury.

“That opens the door for other players that have never won it, totally unexpected finalists perhaps, and there are others that are pushing to get to that level, maybe Rublev for example.”

Meanwhile, oddsmakers have adjusted their markets after making Djokovic an odds-off favorite to lift another Australian Open title.

Stefanos Tsitsipas is now at just 11/2 to won his first major title, with rising star Holger Rune at 11/1.

Djokovic remains a 6/5 favourite, but it is increasingly unclear whether he will be able to play the five additional matches he will need to get through to lift the trophy.