Tennis: Djokovic unsure on injury return after Australian Open ‘perfect 10’

Retired Roger Federer (left) congratulated Novak Djokovic on his Instagram story. PHOTOS: AFP

MELBOURNE – Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic said he hopes to return to action in a month’s time, but is “not sure” how quickly his injured hamstring will heal.

The Serb also revealed that he had not had time to properly celebrate winning a record-extending 10th Melbourne title on Sunday.

His 6-3, 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-5) victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas saw Djokovic equal Rafael Nadal’s men’s record of 22 Grand Slam tournament wins and go back to world No. 1 in the rankings.

Djokovic was troubled throughout the competition by his left hamstring, although it improved as the Grand Slam went on.

While the 35-year-old paraded the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup around the gardens of Government House in Melbourne on Monday for a photoshoot, he was asked by AFP how his leg was and when he might play again.

“I’m not sure, I’m going to do some medical check-ups... Then I’ll be able to talk about it a bit more and understand the situation,” he replied.

Djokovic pulled his hamstring before the Australian Open, having won a warm-up event in Adelaide, and was badly hampered at times at Melbourne Park, particularly in the early rounds. At one point he did not practise between matches.

“I am still signed in for the Dubai tournament, which is in a month’s time. I hope I’ll be able to come back to the courts in several weeks’ time. Let’s see, you know, I’ll speak to the medical team and then take it from there,” he said on Monday.

Djokovic’s coach, Goran Ivanisevic, said most players would not have played after a pre-tournament scan showed the extent of the hamstring injury.

“But not him – he is from outer space. His brain is working different. He gave everything, 77 therapies a day. Every day was kind of better and better,” the Croat told reporters.

Asked how he had celebrated the victory, Djokovic smiled: “With the media, and with doping control! It was 3am when I went back to the accommodation and it was a long night, but of course a huge relief. Ending a tournament and the whole journey here to Australia with a Grand Slam win is always incredibly satisfying.

“I didn’t have yet the chance to really celebrate as much as I would like to. I guess that’s going to come in Europe.”

Meanwhile, tennis great Roger Federer hailed Djokovic’s “incredible effort” in winning a 10th Australian Open and a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title on Sunday.

Former world No. 1 Federer retired last year at the age of 41 after failing to recover from a knee injury.

“Incredible effort, again! Many congratulations,” the retired Swiss legend, who won 20 Slam titles, wrote in a brief message on Instagram. AFP

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