MELBOURNE – Novak Djokovic wore tape above his right hip, and winced when he stretched for some shots in a three-hour match against Milos Raonic that will go into the records as his 300th win at a major.
For anyone curious about the severity of his injury, he put it into context after qualifying for the Australian Open quarterfinals for the 12th time.
“If it’s any other tournament than a Grand Slam then I would retire, withdraw from the event, that’s for sure,” Djokovic said in an on-court TV interview Sunday following his 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 fourth-round victory. “When it warmed up it was fine. During the match it was kind of on and off."
The eight-time Australian Open champion planned to spend most of the next two days recovering ahead of his quarterfinal against sixth-seeded Alexander Zverev.
That's pretty much how he spent his time after injuring an abdominal muscle in his five-set, third-round win over Taylor Fritz.
A lot of recovery, a lot of time getting physiotherapy and, he said, “different treatments with different devices. You know, just pills, painkillers and stuff like this with the medical team ... that definitely helped a lot."
He didn't practice on Saturday — he said he didn't hit a ball — and didn't know until he was warming up three hours before his match against Raonic whether or not he'd be fit enough to play Sunday's late match on Rod Laver Arena.
In the end, he looked OK as he extended his career streak to 12-0 against the big-serving Canadian. He dropped his racket and hurdled an advertising hoarding in the first set, and later watched on as 14th-seeded Raonic had his right ankle re-taped during a medical time out in the second.