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Novak Djokovic sparks withdrawal fears as he skips practice ahead of Australian Open 4r match

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic's fitness for the fourth round is a big question mark
Mihir Gawade
ANALYST
Modified 13 Feb 2021
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Eight-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic has cancelled his practice session for Saturday ahead of his Round of 16 clash against Milos Raonic.

Djokovic's coach Goran Ivanisevic confirmed on ESPN that the World No. 1 will use the time off to undergo scans on his injury suffered during Friday's match. The Serb will seek another medical opinion before deciding whether to step on the court on Sunday.

Novak Djokovic suffered what seemed like a tear in his stomach muscle during his third-round match against Taylor Fritz. The 17-time Slam champion looked in visible agony in the third set, even calling for a trainer. It looked like it was all over for Djokovic as he reeled in pain while Fritz mounted a comeback, winning the third and fourth sets.

But after the break to let the fans out amid Melbourne's fresh lockdown rules, the Serb regained his bearings a little. Djokovic won the final set at a canter to keep his hopes of an 18th Slam alive.

The 33-year-old later called the win one of the most special ones of his career, and admitted that he thought of retiring mid-match as the pain was almost unbearable at one point. Djokovic also expressed major doubts about recovering before the next match.

As per reports from Melbourne, the World No. 1's entourage is unsure if he will step out on the court on Sunday. For now, everything depends on the results of the scans and what Djokovic's doctors suggest.

Could both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal withdraw from the Australian Open?

While the news so far from Novak Djokovic's camp doesn't look positive, Rafael Nadal has also been dropping hints of possible mid-tournament withdrawal.

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Nadal has been dealing with a nagging back issue, which has been affecting his service motion and speed.

Rafael Nadal, too, has injury concerns
Rafael Nadal, too, has injury concerns

After his second-round win over Michael Mmoh on Thursday, Nadal said that his injury is showing no signs of healing. Like Novak Djokovic, the Spaniard's fitness for the next couple of matches is also a big question mark.

A few fans on site have reported that Rafael Nadal skipped practice on Friday, ahead of his third-round match against Cam Norrie. But there has been no confirmation of that; the World No. 2's camp has so far been mum about the state of his health.

For now, Rafael Nadal is scheduled to step out on the court against Cam Norrie. But if both he and Novak Djokovic do not recover in time for their respective fourth-round matches, it will open up a golden opportunity for one of the Next Gen players to win their maiden Slam - or for Dominic Thiem to win his second.

Published 13 Feb 2021, 13:04 IST
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