Novak Djokovic reveals his wife questioned why he is playing at Wimbledon

Kevin Palmer
Novak Djokovic with wife Jelena at the Laureus Awards
Novak Djokovic with wife Jelena at the Laureus Awards

Novak Djokovic has declared he is confident his knee will withstand the pressure of two weeks at Wimbledon, after revealing his wide Jelena questioned his eagerness to return to action so soon after surgery.

The seven-time champion at the All England Club was expected to miss the tournament after he had to withdraw from the French Open with a right knee injury and subsequently had surgery earlier this month.

However, Djokovic practised on Centre Court with Jannik Sinner on Thursday before a day later declaring himself pain-free after he beat Daniil Medvedev 6-3 6-4 in an exhibition match at the Giorgio Armani Tennis Classic at Hurlingham.

Djokovic is pencilled in to start his 19th Championships on Tuesday against qualifier Vit Kopriva and is hopeful his knee will hold up to the rigours of five-set tennis.

When asked by reporters if he was taking a chance by returning to action so quickly, Djokovic offered this detailed response.

“It’s a very fair question that I don’t know the answer to and I do know the answer to, to be honest,” said Djokovic.

“My wife also kind of asked the same question. Which is normal. 37 years old, you want to maybe have less risk and prepare yourself for the Olympic Games.

“So from that perspective, I don’t have an answer to that, but I do have something that is described as a feeling of not missing out at a Grand Slam while I can still play and while I’m still active and at this level.

“I wouldn’t call it a fear of missing out. I would just say it’s this incredible desire to play, just to compete. Particularly because it is Wimbledon, the tournament that always has been a dream tournament for me when I was a kid.

Former British No 1 on Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz and a shock Wimbledon contender

Novak Djokovic salutes the key figure in his Wimbledon fitness ‘miracle’

“I always dreamed of playing Wimbledon. Just the thought of me missing Wimbledon was just not correct. I didn’t want to deal with that.

“Again, also I think because I’ve been through — I’m going through this particular knee injury for the first time in my life, I wanted to see how fast can I really recover, and can I really be in a condition to compete for best-of-five on grass with best players in the world.

“As I said a few days ago, I didn’t come here to play a few rounds and prove to myself and others that I can actually compete in one or two matches.

“I really want to go for the title. So the last three days have given me enough optimism and good signs that I can actually be in a state to compete on the highest level for the next few weeks hopefully.”

Djokovic went on to suggest the lure of playing at Wimbledon was worth the risk, as he looks to equal Roger Federer’s record of eight wins All England Club.

“It’s probably less of a rational and logical explanation, but more of that inner feeling and sensation of really great desire to play Wimbledon. Any Grand Slam, but particularly Wimbledon for me,” he added.

“I know that the Olympics are right after that on a completely different surface. I know all of that. But I’m thinking about Wimbledon. It’s a dream tournament. I needed to focus all my attention on that.

“We put a huge amount of hours in the last three weeks on a daily basis into rehab, into exercises, basically raising the level of intensity of training and rehab every single day, of course being very cautious of the knee and the reactions.

“I haven’t had any setback. If I had one setback, I would be then questioning whether I should be here or not. But I haven’t had a single one. Why not give it a shot?”