Novak Djokovic has picked up a wrist injury just 11 days before the Australian Open gets underway in a major blow for the Serbian world No.1 tennis star.
Djokovic, a 24-time Grand Slam champion who is set to defend his crown at Melbourne Park, hurt his wrist again as he lost to Alex de Minaur at the United Cup on Wednesday, brining his 43-match winning streak in Australia to an end.
The 36-year-old was frustrated to be denied a request for a medical time out during the 6-4 6-4 defeat because it was not deemed to be a new issue, with Djokovic having first picked up the problem against Jiri Lehecka on Tuesday.
Djokovic argued that his wrist injury improved before his match against De Minaur and only worsened when he started playing but the decision stood and he was only allowed to receive medical attention during the changeovers.
‘What are you talking about, it’s the injury you treated yesterday?’ A frustrated Djokovic said on the court.
‘So the logic in that, if it continues getting worse the next day you won’t treat it because it has already been recurring yesterday?
‘I said it has improved before the match and when I started playing and the more I’m playing, it’s getting worse. That’s what I told you.’
Djokovic, though, played down concerns over his injury after the match and said: ‘I have plenty of time to – plenty, I mean, I think enough time to get myself in the right shape for Australian Open, and that’s what matters the most at this point.
I think I’ll be okay, to be honest. It did have quite an impact, particularly on the forehand and serve.
‘I don’t want to be spending too much time talking about it and taking away credit of the victory from De Minaur. He was solid, as he always is. Congrats to him, to the Australian team and it is what it is for us.
‘The [injury] process is not strange to me. It’s not unusual. I’ve been in this kind of situation so many times and I know what I need to do along with my team to get myself ready.
‘That’s what we’re going to work on, to get my body in the right shape, optimal state, so that I can perform at the high level throughout hopefully the entire Australian Open.
‘I knew that I was probably not going to be at my 100 per cent physically, emotionally, mentally game-wise in the opening week of a season. Neither did I expect that. Neither did I want that, to be honest.
‘It’s all a part of the build-up for the Australian Open. That’s where I want to perform at my best. It’s never nice to lose a match, of course, but it’s not really going to stay with me much.’
Meanwhile, Nick Kyrgios has slammed the ATP and has insisted that the consistent changing of tennis balls is to blame for Djokovic’s injury.
‘Change of balls every week finally got to novaks (sic) wrist,’ Kyrgios posted on Twitter. ‘The atp really need to do something about this problem. Players suffer all the time.’