Novak Djokovic accused of ‘bluffing’ over injury at Wimbledon by Slam winner and persistent critic

Ewan West
Novak Djokovic on court at Wimbledon
Novak Djokovic in action at Wimbledon

Italian tennis great Adriano Panatta has proclaimed that there is “a big mystery surrounding” Novak Djokovic’s physical condition at the 2024 Wimbledon Championships. 

The former world No 4, who has often been a harsh critic of Djokovic in recent years, suggested the Serbian legend could be “bluffing” over his recent knee injury and surgery.

Djokovic underwent surgery after tearing the medial meniscus in his right knee at the French Open last month, leading many to predict he would miss Wimbledon.

However, the 37-year-old made an impressive recovery in time to compete at the All England Club, where he is seeking a record-equalling eighth title.

The 24-time Grand Slam champion will face world No 47 Alexei Popyrin in the third round at Wimbledon today after victories against Vit Kopriva and Jacob Fearnley.

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In an interview with Libero Quotidiano, Panatta raised questions about Djokovic’s injury and his operation, while recognising the threat the tennis great poses at Wimbledon.

“Let’s say there’s a big mystery surrounding him,” Panatta said. “How is he really? Is he bluffing? And his recently operated knee?

“At 37, he’s not the ‘Djoker’ of the good days, but I would always be afraid to cross rackets with someone who has triumphed on Centre Court seven times.”

The former French Open champion also argued Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz are the two clear favourites at Wimbledon.

“He (Sinner) is the favourite against anyone except Alcaraz,” assessed Panatta.

“They are the two excellences of current tennis in which swim other excellent players who are not champions.

“The current levelling cannot ignore those two who are a cut above all the other players. In a one-off match, the Spaniard has a little more, but in his career, Jannik will be more consistent.”

Panatta also criticised the quality of the Italian derby between Sinner and Matteo Berrettini in the second round at Wimbledon.

“It was a great game from an emotional point of view, but technically not very good,” he said on La Telefonata podcast. “I read about the game of the century, but as usual, it goes too far.

“They’ve both made a lot of unforced mistakes and I think it’s not normal for Sinner to make so many mistakes. It almost seems that he is surprised to play not at the best and yesterday he could not, also for the merits of Matteo Berrettini.

“I think both can do better. Jannik Sinner has played at 80% of his potential, maybe even less, given the matches against Alcaraz and Djokovic in the past. Berrettini has regained the power of service, but it moves worse than three years ago.

“This he recovers with training and the games he lacks, he can improve and make his game. It also has to work on the reverse, it has a movement that does not convince me.”

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