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

Kevin Palmer
Novak Djokovic at the 2024 of the Giorgio Armani Tennis Classic at the Hurlingham Club
Novak Djokovic at the 2024 of the Giorgio Armani Tennis Classic at the Hurlingham Club

Novak Djokovic has won his fitness battle to compete at Wimbledon after claiming he is playing without pain a few weeks after undergoing knee surgery.

The former world No 1 was expected to miss the tournament he has won seven times after having knee surgery less than three weeks ago but now appears almost certain to play.

His movement was not completely perfect in a 6-3 6-4 win over Daniil Medvedev at the Giorgio Armani Tennis Classic at Hurlingham, with Djokovic, who wore strapping on his right knee, showing a reluctance to push off from that leg when out wide, but he served well and struck the ball crisply.

Asked about his fitness afterwards, the 37-year-old initially gave a big sigh before saying: “I can tell you that I enjoyed myself really, really much today.

“I can tell you that pain-free tennis is the best tennis. I was pain-free and I’m really glad. It was a great test obviously against one of the best players in the world.

“I’ve played a couple of practice sets but I really wanted to test myself. The test was very successful so I’m obviously really glad. It’s been an intense three weeks after surgery, spending a lot of hours rehabbing.

“I kind of always wanted to give myself a chance to be in London. I think my surgeon is here. He’s the MVP for sure in the last three weeks. I’m trying to take it day by day and see how far it goes.”

Jannik Sinner dumped out of Wimbledon and Novak Djokovic into another final – our big predictions

Felix Auger-Aliassime pick his favourite from the ‘Big 3’ in an exclusive Tennis365 interview

Djokovic has been leaning on fellow athletes who have suffered similar injuries, including American Taylor Fritz, who faced the same situation three years ago and recovered in time for Wimbledon.

“I asked him, I asked many athletes – (Stan) Wawrinka, Lindsey Vonn, Zlatan Ibrahimovic – and they were all very kind to share some of their experiences and give me some contacts of people who could help me out,” added Djokovic.

Djokovic’s recovery has been hailed as a miracle by former British No 1 Laura Robson, who told Tennis365 that the Serbian will be a threat if he is fully fit for Wimbledon.

“Honestly, it would be a miracle for him to play,” Robson told Tennis365 in an exclusive interview.

“I remember Taylor Fritz had a similar situation where he had surgery on his knee and played Wimbledon three weeks later and ended up doing pretty well, all things considered, but he is ten years younger and I’m sure things get harder at the age of 37.

“I would be shocked if he plays a best-of-five match, but this is Novak. If he is in the draw and he feels like he can have a good run at it, then you can’t rule him out.

“He had not had his best season, but we have seen him have periods where his form dips and then he comes back and wins again. That is what Djokovic has done throughout his career.

“Novak will only play at Wimbledon if he believes he can win and he is always going to be a threat whenever he is in the draw. He is Djokovic for a reason.

“At this stage of his career and when he has won everything there is to win, there would be zero point in going through the motions.

“He could be at home and literally doing anything else in his life, but he is at Wimbledon this week and he is seeing what he can do. He would not be here unless he believed he could have a big chance of winning.”