Novak Djokovic - Australian Open 2023

Novak Djokovic’s former coach defends him amid fake injury accusations

Novak Djokovic and his former coach Boris Becker have hit back at claims that he is faking his hamstring injury, after a dominant display over home favourite Alex De Minaur, to reach his 13th Australian Open quarter-final.

Djokovic picked up the injury in Adelaide, where he won his 92nd title, and has been struggling with it ever since. However, the Serb seemed to be feeling better against the 22nd seed, where he lost only five games.

Becker, who is a tennis expert for the Australian Open, which is live and exclusive on discovery+ and Eurosport, coached Novak Djokovic between 2013 and 2016, collecting six Grand Slam titles in that period.

Some have speculated over how serious the No.5’s injury really is, with Djokovic only dropping one set in his four matches in Melbourne, but Becker has jumped to the defence of his former player.

“I’ve known him for a long time and I know that he has problems with his thigh,” said Becker, “Sometimes you think he’s bluffing or can’t finish the game. It’s a bit of heaven and hell. That also makes it difficult for the opponent. But Novak wouldn’t behave like that if he had nothing.”

Djokovic has had his left leg heavily strapped throughout the tournament, as well as taking some pills and applying cream to the injured area.

The 21-time Grand Slam champion has spoken of the toll the injury has had on him, “It requires a lot of energy that is being spent on my side mentally and physically to deal with the match, with my opponent and also with my not ideal physical state.”

He continued, “But it is what it is, it’s kind of the circumstances you have to accept and I’m actually very grateful I’m able to play. The way it looked just before the tournament started, it didn’t look possible but I’m still here and still holding on.”

The 35-year-old also launched a defiant response to those who had doubted the legitimacy of his injury, “I leave the doubting to those people – let them doubt,” he said in Serbian to his country’s media, “Only my injuries are questioned. When some other players are injured, then they are the victims, but when it is me, I am faking it. It is very interesting… I don’t feel that I need to prove anything to anyone.

He added, “I have got the MRI, ultrasound and everything else, both from two years ago and now. Whether I will publish that in my documentary or on the social media, depends on how I feel. Maybe I will do I it, maybe I won’t.”

“I am not really interested at this point what people are thinking and saying. It is fun, it is interesting to see how the narrative surrounding me continues, narrative that is different compared to other players that have been going through similar situation. But I am used to it, and it just gives me extra strength and motivation. So I thank them for that.”

Novak Djokovic is the heavy favourite for the title, and he will continue his quest for a record tenth Australian Open on Wednesday when he plays No.6 Andrey Rublev. Despite feeling better in his match against de Minaur, the Serb says he still intends to approach his off days cautiously.

“We just spoke about it, I don’t know, we are thinking whether we should continue with not practicing on off-days,” he said. “The signs are good, but I won’t celebrate just yet. Let’s see how I will feel tomorrow.”

Watch every match from the Australian Open live and exclusive on discovery+, Eurosport and the Eurosport App.

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.