As Novak Djokovic is just days away from taking over the all-time ATP Tour record for number of weeks at No. 1, we flash back to just a few weeks ago, on the sunny practice courts of the Australian Open.
It was Feb. 11, and Djokovic was hitting with the Croatian player Borna Gojo.
The next day, Djokovic’s Australian Open quest would get a lot more complicated. He injured his oblique during his third-round match over American Taylor Fritz.
Djokovic managed to win that one in five, basically going for two first serves for a couple of sets until the meds kicked in.
And for a few rounds, it was fairly obvious to anyone watching that the oblique was a pretty big issue.
It wasn’t all the time; it came and went in waves. And he was trying not to make a big deal about it. But it was pretty evident.
As the tournament progressed, with a lot of help from trainer Ulises Badio and some effective anti-inflammatories, Djokovic got over the hump.
And by the time he met and demolished Daniil Medvedev in the final, he was firing on all cylinders long enough to finish the job and win his ninth title in Melbourne.
Here’s what the practice session looked like.
There were a fair few fans around; it was a couple of days before Melbourne went on a five-day lockdown, and the tournament was played behind closed doors.
And Djokovic was in a pretty great mood the day after resisting a game charge from American Frances Tiafoe. Djokovic won in four sets.
Djokovic wins the bowling
At the end of the practice, a standard game of tennis lawn bowling.
Let’s just say Gojo needs … a little practice.
And it was clear that Djokovic might have taken in a little … curling in watching the Winter Olympics at some point.
All that was missing, when he was waving his racquet at his ball to get it to go closer to the baseline, was a “HURRY HARDDDDDDDD!!!!”
Gojo and Badio ended up the targets for a little game of “Butts Up”.
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