Novak Djokovic is one step nearer to yet one more Australian Open title, combating by his ongoing harm troubles to beat Milos Raonic on Sunday night.
However regardless of transferring into the quarterfinals — one match after claiming one of many “most particular wins” of his life — the story of Djokovic’s title defence has taken a well-recognized darkish flip.
On Friday, Djokovic, who at instances regarded badly injured earlier than making a surprising restoration, got here again from the brink of elimination to beat No.27 seed Taylor Fritz in 5 units.
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“That is positively some of the particular wins in my life,” Djokovic mentioned. “Underneath these sorts of circumstances, to tug by is one thing I’ll bear in mind for ever.”
However regardless of having one thing of a profession second, the response to the win has been lukewarm — and at odds with an identical triumph by long-time rival Roger Federer ultimately 12 months’s Australian Open.
Federer produced an Australian Open traditional by saving a whopping seven match factors towards Tennys Sandgren to additionally win in 5 units.
The response was overwhelmingly optimistic, for Federer had produced yet one more second of magic for generations of tennis followers to savour.
In the meantime, the narrative of Djokovic’s Australian Open marketing campaign is following a very completely different path with questions being raised over the legitimacy of his injury troubles.
Whereas no two comebacks are equivalent, Djokovic was requested in Serbian on Sunday why his win towards Fritz hasn’t been handled the identical as Federer’s towards Sandgren.
The query led to a tragic admission from the 17-time Grand Slam winner.
“That’s like opening Pandora’s field,” he mentioned after beating Raonic, in accordance with Tennis Majors. “If we start to debate that, we gained’t end this night. Presumably there are hundreds of thousands of various causes.”
He added: “I can’t say that it doesn’t typically get to me – after all that an injustice or an unfair portrayal by the media impacts me. I’m a human being, I’ve feelings and naturally I don’t get pleasure from it.
“I’ve the facility solely to manage that which I’m doing, not that which others are writing about me, how they decide or criticise me. In any case, that’s as much as them and has nothing to do with me, I can’t affect it.
“No one within the media can break my spirit for my reference to my very own soul and consciousness is deeper than any information that’s written and any type of public criticism.
“I do know who I’m, what I’m, the place I’m, the place I’ve been and the place I’m going – I proudly level all that out.”
It’s no secret that Djokovic has all the time struggled on the recognition entrance. Even so, hitting a lineswoman on the US Open, partying mid-pandemic and taking an anti-vax stance final 12 months noticed his recognition shares hit all-time low.
If he wasn’t a simple goal earlier than that, he’s definitely develop into one since.
And that’s not simply true for the media. These throughout the professional tennis circle have been fast to pour doubt on simply how particular Djokovic’s wins towards Fritz and Raonic have been.
Nick Kyrgios steered he has been exaggerating his injury issues, whereas Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou claimed he typically “pretends he’s giving up” to try and trick his opponents.
“Generally, Novak performs a bit with the thoughts of the opponent when he’s in hassle, pretending he’s giving up. After which, increase, he performs once more,” Mouratoglou mentioned.
“He’s achieved that loads of time previously, OK, however he by no means fakes an harm.”
Djokovic has, nonetheless, achieved little to assist his case by refusing to make clear particulars concerning the harm he suffered towards Fritz.
“I perceive that you simply need to know, however I actually don’t need to get into it what it’s,” he mentioned.
“Sure I did an MRI, I did the whole lot, I do know what it’s, however I don’t need to speak about it now. I’m nonetheless within the event. I hope you guys perceive that. I don’t need to speculate an excessive amount of about it.”
Attempting to hide any weaknesses is an comprehensible play at a Grand Slam, nevertheless it additionally creates a disconnect.
What Djokovic is seemingly but to understand is that the disconnects spreads from his opponents, to the media and, in the end, any potential followers.