World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has claimed he wouldn't have taken to the court on Sunday for his fourth-round match against Milos Raonic at the Australian Open had it not been a Grand Slam event.
On Friday, Novak Djokovic looked visibly restricted in his movement during the third and fourth sets of his third-round clash against American Taylor Fritz. The Serb regrouped to win the fifth set, but later revealed he may have suffered a muscle tear and was unsure if he would be able to continue in the tournament.
However, the World No. 1 did take to the court on Sunday, where he defeated Roanic 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-1, 6-4. That was the 300th Grand Slam win of his career, and it moved him to within three wins of his ninth Australian Open title.
"If I wasn’t in the condition I would pull out, so there was a big cloud of doubt over whether I would play or not,” Djokovic said after the win over Raonic. "But it's a Grand Slam and for me at this stage of my career this means everything. There are four events a year that I give everything I have in me to compete. If it was any other tournament I'd probably not be playing."
Novak Djokovic has been on painkillers since the match against Fritz, and the Serb admitted that he is putting himself at risk of further peril by continuing on. But Djokovic has made no secret of his desire to break the Slam record (currently held jointly by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at 20), so his keenness to do everything in his power to add an 18th Slam this year in Melbourne is understandable.
"Because I am under painkillers for 48 hours, very strong ones, I don’t know exactly the damage has been done," Djokovic siad. "But there is always the chance to do more damage to what it was previously because when you play a match you can’t control your body, you are going for it, you are not thinking about I shouldn’t play at this point or that point."
"Right now, in my head, it’s all about recovery" - Novak Djokovic on the quarterfinal against Alexander Zverev
Novak Djokovic further claimed he had not practiced ahead of his clash against Milos Raonic, having taken the decision to play only after his warm-up session earlier in the day.
"It is not ideal, I have felt better," the Serb said. "I did not have much of a preparation for this match and did not hit tennis balls since two nights ago against Fritz. I have warmed up a couple of hours and wanted to see my condition."
Novak Djokovic is now through to a last-eight fixture against Germany's Alexander Zverev, whom he has beaten in five of their seven encounters. The 33-year-old asserted that he will place more emphasis on recovery than on practice before Tuesday's quarterfinal.
"Right now, in my head, it’s all about recovery to be honest," Djokovic said. "I'm not really thinking about any training, I just really want to try and feel better and better as this tournament progresses."