Novak Djokovic won his record-extending ninth Australian Open title in remarkable fashion, defeating Daniil Medvedev 7-5 6-2 6-2 in the final on Sunday.
But the Serb's win this year was far more complicated than the final made it seem. He had to fight through an abdominal injury during the tournament, and also faced plenty of negative press due to his quarantine requests upon arriving in Melbourne.
Novak Djokovic alluded to the controversies in his post-match interview, stressing how difficult it was to deal with the off-court issues during the fortnight.
"I think emotionally it was one of the hardest tournaments I have ever had, with the quarantine and a lot of things happening in the media," Novak Djokovic said. "The letter that I wrote as ideas and recommendations that I got from other players was misinterpreted as my list of demands and then next thing you know I'm 'persona non grata' in this country."
Novak Djokovic was referring to the list of suggestions he had sent to Craig Tiley, the chief of Tennis Australia, for improving the conditions of players put into strict isolation.
"It was tough dealing with all of this and getting injured as well in the third round against Taylor," Djokovic went on. "I mean it was a roller coaster ride, if I can define it in one word. But that makes it even sweeter for me, and I take a lot of positives from this tournament."
"People questioned my injury, but it's a muscle tear" - Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic also spoke extensively about the injury he suffered during his third-round encounter with Taylor Fritz, and the questions that were raised around it.
"I can talk about it now, I wanted to keep things quiet and clear for me and just keep it about the tennis but I can once the tournament is over," Novak Djokovic said of his abdominal injury. "It's a muscle tear. I've never experienced the kind of snap that I had in the third round. I went for an MRI and it showed it was a tear."
"People questioned it, and I understand they questioned my injury," the Serb added. "There is a tear and I can leave the doctors and physios to confirm that. But for me, it was a huge obstacle and a challenge and I couldn't practice in the days between the matches."
Novak Djokovic also expressed gratitude for the rest days between matches that Grand Slams afford, claiming that those breaks helped the healing process.
"The good thing is that I actually had the days between each match so I got more time to heal," Djokovic said. "I actually spent 10 of the waking 14 hours on the table in doing everything I possibly can and it worked."
Djokovic, who at 18 Major titles is now just two behind his greatest rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, asserted that the whole injury episode was a learning experience for him.
"I guess we're all different. I might have a great ability to heal? I don't know I just managed somehow with the painkillers and pills and stuff. At the end of the day it was a great experience for me and I will definitely learn some lessons from this," the World No. 1 concluded.
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