Australian Open 2021: Record-breaking Novak Djokovic faces sideline spell with muscle tear

Novak Djokovic will need to spend some time on the sidelines recovering from a muscle tear that hindered him in the later rounds of the Australian Open, the Serbian said as he celebrated his ninth Melbourne Park title on Monday. The 33-year-old extended his own record with an emphatic 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Daniil Medvedev at Rod Laver Arena on Sunday (February 21), despite carrying the injury suffered in the third round of the tournament. 

Djokovic equalled Rafa Nadal’s Open Era record of six Grand Slam title runs after turning 30. The World No. 1 turned 30 in May 2017 and has since won major championship crowns at the Australian Open (2019-’21), Wimbledon (2018-’19) and the US Open (2018). 

Most Australian Open titles

The Serbian extended his all-time best record of winning the Australian Open. Djokovic now own nine title in Australia while Roy Emerson and Roger Federer are tied in second place with six titles each. The 2021 Australian Open champion now has 18 career Grand Slam titles, second behind Federer and Nadal’s 20 titles each. 

Parading his trophy on the beach in the Melbourne suburb of Brighton on Monday, Djokovic said a second scan of his abdomen had revealed he had made the injury worse by playing on. 

“I just came actually came from another MRI that I’ve done this morning and the damage is bigger than what it was when it happened, when I did the first MRI after the third round,” he told reporters. “It’s not too bad judging by what doctor said but I`ll have to take some time off and heal. The tear is bigger.” 

The injury was not the only issue Djokovic had to contend with during his time in Australia. The world number one riled some locals when he submitted suggestions to organisers over how quarantine conditions for players could be improved. 

The ups and downs of what he described as a ‘rollercoaster’ of a trip Down Under had made his 18th Grand Slam title triumph all the more satisfying. 

“I reflect on it as a great experience, and a unique journey, and I would definitely remember and try to take out a lot of positives from it,” he said. 

“I have learned a lot of lessons, and learned a lot of things, about myself and about everything that was going on in the last five to six weeks, but I think that everything that was happening on and off the court makes this victory even better and even sweeter.” 

Djokovic said he had celebrated his triumph by calling his family back home in Serbia and sitting down for a meal capped off with a cake. 

“I used to go wild and go to discotheques and nightclubs and god knows what, and now it is a bit different,” he said. “A different kind of celebration, more of a home a celebration with family and close people.”

(with Reuters inputs)

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