Novak Djokovic - US Open 2023

Novak Djokovic says he is ‘pain-free’ ahead of Australian Open defence

Novak Djokovic says he is going into the Australian Open ‘pain-free’ despite a wrist injury flaring up at the recent United Cup.

Djokovic goes into the tournament as the big favourite and chasing an incredible 11th title in Melbourne, which would be a 25th major overall.

He gave his fans a scare though when he lost to Alex de Minaur earlier this month, with him clearly struggling with a wrist problem.

However, he says he has been fine since then, even if he can’t say for sure it won’t be a problem until it is properly tested on the court.

“My wrist is good,” Djokovic said ahead of the tournament. “I had time from the last match against [Alex] de Minaur in the United Cup to my first match here to recover.

“I’ve been training well. Practice sessions pain-free so far. It’s good. It’s all looking good. Let’s see how it goes.”

“It’s not as bad as some other injuries I had here. 2021 and last year I had worse injuries that I had to deal with. So, yeah, I mean, I can’t predict whether it’s going to come back.

“Once I start playing more matches, stress levels go higher. I don’t know. We have to find out.”

Is Novak Djokovic a victim of ATP ball controversy?

Wrist, shoulder and elbow injuries are topical in the ATP right now due to an ongoing debate about the balls used on Tour.

Although many casual fans may not realise it, there can be an enormous difference between how different balls made by different brands play. That wouldn’t be a problem normally, but the ATP allow tournaments to choose their own balls and do their own deals.

That is good for the tournaments and the ball manufacturers, but bad for players who have to adjust to a new ball most weeks.

There is a belief on the Tour at the moment among top players, Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz among them, that the constant adjustments are causing arm injuries.

Those players are asking for change, with more consideration given to players by the ATP Tour. Players are happy for different balls to be used, but would prefer it was done on a season-by-season or swing-by-swing basis.

For example, one ball for clay season or one ball for the Asian swing etc.

Whether or not those changes ever happen remains to be seen, but tennis would probably do well to listen to what they are being told by the players and prioritising their welfare.

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Michael Graham, Editor, has been a professional sports journalist for his whole career and is especially passionate about tennis. He's been the Editor of for over 5 years and loves watching live tennis by visiting as many tournaments as possible. Michael specialises in writing in-depth features about the ATP & WTA tours.