Sports, Tennis

Australian Open chief backs Djokovic amid injury

Published : 13 Feb 2021 07:47 PM


Tournament boss Craig Tiley played down fears Saturday that injured defending champion Novak Djokovic could pull out of the Australian Open, calling the world number one "resilient and tough".

The ailing Serb somehow came though an gruelling five-setter on Friday night against Taylor Fritz, overcoming an abdominal "muscle tear" that cast doubt over whether he will be able to continue.

Djokovic said he had "huge pain" and only a high dose of anti-inflammatories got him through the match 7-6 (7/1), 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-2, and now faces a race to be fit for his fourth-round clash with Milos Raonic on Sunday.

But Tiley said he was confident Djokovic would be ready to resume his hunt for an unprecedented ninth title.

"We'll see him. He's resilient, he's tough," Tiley told Australian broadcaster Channel Nine.

"He'll wake up today and he'll figure out what it is and he'll go and get the appropriate treatment. The way he was, those two sets, I was pretty surprised.

"But I've seen him play here, this is his court, he gets comfortable on it and he just picks his game up and up and he's that good.

"So his health is going to be important and we'll make a decision later on today on when he plays tomorrow."

The top seed and hot tournament favourite appeared to be cruising against Fritz until he needed a medical timeout early in the third set.