Australian Open 2023: Irritable and Injured, Novak Djokovic Faces Test From his ‘Balkan Brother’


The Serb has faced many issues he would not have liked so far on his return, and now confronts a tricky test against a familiar opponent in the third round.

Novak Djokovic remonstrates with the umpire during his second round match against France’s Enzo Couacaud. (REUTERS/Loren Elliott)

Grand Slam fever grips tennis fans all over the world as the 2023 Australian Open kicks off. For the next fortnight, The Indian Express will bring you the biggest storylines of the day, and the best matches to watch at timings suitable for Indian audiences, every morning. Showcase match(4) Novak Djokovic vs (27) Grigor Dimitrov (Round of 32)1.30pm, Rod Laver Arena Novak Djokovic returned to Melbourne with a positive reception, with the Australian crowd and him both ready to put last year’s bizarre storyline behind them. But his return, in its first week, has not been as comfortable as he would have liked. Djokovic arrived with injury trouble, having felt tightness in his hamstring on his way to his first title of the year at the Adelaide tune-up. The injury has got worse, as Djokovic failed to train consistently ahead of his first two matches, and has needed to wrap it up in protective tape. “My situation with my injury is not ideal,” he said after his second-round win over Enzo Couacaud. “I am not practising basically on the days between (matches) because I’m trying to give myself more time possible for my leg to be in somewhat of an ‘ideal’ state for performance on a high level. ”The hamstring is not the only source of his uneasiness. Djokovic has cut a frustrated figure for most of his time on court, being distracted by one thing or another. On Thursday, it was a heckler, whom he described as “drunk out of his mind” who came to Melbourne Park to provoke him and not watch tennis, in an argument with the chair umpire. When not on the court, Djokovic has taken aim at the media. Pre-tournament, he sympathised with the people of Melbourne who took issue with his trying to enter without vaccination having faced stringent lockdown protocols, but blamed the media for misleading the public, and making him a “villain of the world”.


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