MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said Novak Djokovic played at the Grand Slam event with a muscle tear of 3 centimeters — a little more than an inch — in his left hamstring along the way to winning the championship.
“He gets a bad rap, but at the end of the day, I don’t think anyone can question his athleticism. This guy, I did see, he had a 3-centimeter tear in his hammy,” Tiley said Wednesday in an interview with SEN Sportsday.
“The doctors are ... going to tell you the truth,” Tiley said. “I think there was a lot of speculation of whether it was true or not. It’s hard to believe that someone can do what they do with those types of injuries. But he’s remarkable.”
Djokovic won the trophy at Melbourne Park on Sunday by beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets for a record-extending 10th title there and record-tying 22nd Grand Slam trophy overall. Rafael Nadal is the only other man who has won that many majors.
The triumph also allowed Djokovic to return to No. 1 in the ATP rankings on Monday.
The 35-year-old from Serbia hurt his hamstring during a tune-up tournament in Adelaide ahead of the Australian Open. He wore a heavy bandage on his left thigh and was visited by trainers during matches in Week 1 in Melbourne.
He said he took “a lot” of painkiller pills and did various treatments to help the leg.
“Let me put it like this: I don’t say 100%, but 97% of the players, on Saturday when you get results of the MRI, you go straight to the referee's office and pull out of the tournament,” Djokovic's coach, Goran Ivanisevic, said after the final. “But not him. ... His brain is working different.”
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