Novak Djokovic explains rushing to Wimbledon after surgery as Serb risks Olympics spot | Tennis | Sport


Novak Djokovic has explained why he opted to rush back in time for Wimbledon just three-and-a-half weeks after undergoing knee surgery.

The world No. 2 withdrew injured from the earlier this month French Open and had a procedure on June 5. He arrived at the All England Club last week to practice and was drawn to face qualifier Vit Kopriva in the first round.

Ahead of the tournament, Djokovic admitted that his decision to play wasn’t rational or logical but he shared the reasons he wanted to play despite knowing that he could be risking his Olympic preparations.

Djokovic provided a lengthy update on his knee surgery and recovery as he addressed the media officially for the first time since before pulling out of his French Open quarter-final.

And the 24-time Grand Slam champion knew exactly what the topic of conversation would be. “Go straight to the knee conversation, I guess. Save everyone the time for the question,” he started.

“Well, when that happened in fourth round of Roland Garros, I made a very quick decision to make surgery, I was very much in doubt of making Wimbledon. Then after extensive conversations with certain athletes that have been through very similar situations, for example, Taylor Fritz who has been through something pretty much the same like I have three years ago.

“I think he injured himself also in Roland Garros. He said 21 days after he played his first round in Wimbledon. Wawrinka, Lindsey Vonn, they all shared their experiences.

“Really, that gave me faith and optimism that if rehab is done right and correct, and if of course knee responds well, which is something that is very unpredictable, then there is a pretty good chance that I’ll make Wimbledon.”

Since then, the 37-year-old has spent a week training at Wimbledon, upping the intensity in the last three days. He continued: “I had, particularly the last three days, very intense tennis sessions.

“I had points. Practice sets played with Sinner, with Frances Tiafoe, with Medvedev yesterday, and Emil Ruusuvuori, actually double session, and then today with Rune, as well.

“Really top players that are playing great tennis on grass. High intensity. Lots of I guess situations on the court where the knee is tested to almost the maximum. Change of directions, so forth.

“The knee has responded very well to all of that so far, which of course then is a great sign for my participation in Wimbledon. That’s why I decided to be in the draw.

“I still have couple days’ time. I play on Tuesday. I’m confident about the health of my knee and just general physical state is really good. Obviously once the tournament starts, I’ll have more I guess sensations and more feedback from how knee reacts to a best-of-five Grand Slam match. So far everything that was done was very positive.”

Djokovic’s decision to race back for Wimbledon raised eyebrows given that he already has seven titles at SW19 and will be vying to win Olympic gold in just a few weeks’ time, where he will have to switch back to the clay-court surface.

And he tried to explain the reasoning behind his thought process to attempt the quick turnaround after surgery.

“It’s a very fair question that I don’t know the answer to and I do know the answer to, to be honest. My wife also kind of asked the same question, right? Which is normal. 37 years old, you want to maybe have less risk and prepare yourself for Olympic Games,” he explained.

“So from that perspective, I don’t have an answer to that, but I do have something that is described as a feeling of not missing out at a Grand Slam while I can still play and while I’m still active and at this level.

“I wouldn’t call it a fear of missing out. I would just say it’s this incredible desire to play, just to compete. Particularly because it is Wimbledon, the tournament that always has been a dream tournament for me when I was a kid.

“I always dreamed of playing Wimbledon. Just the thought of me missing Wimbledon was just not correct. I didn’t want to deal with that.”

The recovery was also a challenge for Djokovic, who had only undergone surgery once before in his lengthy career. He added: “Again, also I think because I’ve been through – I’m going through this particular knee injury for the first time in my life, I wanted to see how fast can I really recover, and can I really be in a condition to compete best-of-five on grass with best players in the world.

“As I said few days ago, I didn’t come here to play a few rounds and prove to myself and others that I can actually compete in one or two matches. I really want to go for the title.

“So the last three days have given me enough optimism and good signs that I can actually be in a state to compete on the highest level for the next few weeks hopefully. So I guess that’s in a nutshell really how I can explain.

“It’s probably less of a rational and logical explanation, but more of that inner feeling and sensation of really great desire to play Wimbledon. Any Grand Slam, but particularly Wimbledon for me.”



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