World No. 1 Novak Djokovic battled through injury once again during his fourth-round win over Milos Raonic at the Australian Open, and then made a shock admission in the aftermath.
The 33-year-old defeated the Canadian 7-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 at Rod Laver Arena on Sunday night, advancing to a quarterfinal showdown with Alex Zverev in the process.
After “tearing a muscle” in his abdomen on Friday night against Taylor Fritz, Djokovic revealed postmatch that he came into the Raonic match with no preparation.
“There was no preparation, basically, for this match,” he said. “I used every hour I had since I finished the last match to recover, to try to put myself in a position where I had a possibility to compete.
“My physio has done a great job.”
Djokovic was in visible pain during the match with Raonic but still managed to get through with relative ease. His serving speed was around his normal mark.
But the Serbian revealed that if this weren’t a Grand Slam event, then he would have already withdrawn from the competition, such is the seriousness of his injury.
“If it’s any other tournament other than a Grand Slam, I would retire, withdraw from the event, that’s for sure,” he said. “But because it’s a Grand Slam, I want to give my best to try and get on the court and recover.
“I didn’t know before I finished my warmup today, three hours before I entered the court, whether I’m going to play or not.
“When it warmed up it was fine; during the match today it was kind of on and off.”
Djokovic will take on sixth seed Zverev on Tuesday in a rematch of their ATP Cup match just a couple of weeks ago.