5 times Novak Djokovic was injured and won a Grand Slam: Featuring a 'three-centimetre tear in his hammy' (2024)

Shahida Jacobs

5 times Novak Djokovic was injured and won a Grand Slam: Featuring a 'three-centimetre tear in his hammy' (1)

Novak Djokovic is well known for pulling off remarkable comeback wins as he has won several Grand Slams when seemingly down and out while carrying an injury.

There are once again an injury cloud hovering above the tennis great at the French Open as he struggled with a right knee problem in the build-up to the tournament and he aggravated the injury during a fall in his fourth-round win over Francisco Cerundolo.

After the match Djokovic admitted that he is not sure if he will be fit for the quarter-final, stating: “I mean, today I injured myself. Yes, I survived. I won the match. Great. But will I be able to play the next one? I don’t know.

“I don’t know the severity of the injury.”

Don’t be too surprised if Djokovic ends up going all the way at Roland Garros 2024 despite the problem as he has been here before.

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Previous time Djokovic won a major despite struggling with injury:

2011 US Open final

Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal in four sets in the 2011 US Open final as he won his first title at Flushing Meadows and fourth Grand Slam.

The reigning world No 1 needed a medical timeout in the fourth set and painkillers ended up doing the trick as he defeated Nadal 6-2, 6-4, 6-7 (3-7), 6-1.

“I took some painkillers. I had some problems with the ribs, leg cramps as well as a back problem, it was more than one thing,” the Serbian said afterwards.

“It wasn’t a surprise. In the fourth set I felt some discomfort with the serve so I went for precision more than speed to get into the rallies.

“I think he was expecting a big serve and he ended up being short on the returns. But he was also fitter so I had to go for my shots and I did.”

2014 Wimbledon

After struggling with a wrist problem in the build-up to the tournament, Djokovic then suffered a shoulder injury during a nasty fall during his third-round match against Gilles Simon.

“It was a sharp pain when I fell, it was an awkward fall,” the Serbian said. “I was just hoping it was nothing bad with the joint. Luckily there was no damage to the joint and I could play after that. It was just the muscle that was sore.

He still managed to reach the final where he faced Roger Federer and again took a tumble early during the match which required treatment from the trainer. He also needed treatment on his leg in the final set, but came away with a 6-7 (7-9), 6-4, 7-6 (7-4), 5-7, 6-4 win for his seventh Grand Slam.

2018 Wimbledon

The 2017 season and the first half of the 2018 seasons were troubled periods for Djokovic as he struggled with a serious elbow injury that required surgery as he missed the 2017 US Open and was then knocked out in the fourth round of the 2018 Australian Open and quarter-final at Roland Garros.

After losing in Paris he revealed: “I don’t know if I’m going to play on grass. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I cannot give you any answer.”

Already under an injury cloud, he also picked up a leg injury during his second-round win as he required a medical timeout against Horacio Zeballos.

“It’s most likely a twitch in the muscle or something like this that has affected the knee a little bit,” he explained. “Hopefully it’s nothing that will concern me, so to say, that I’ll be able to perform.”

There were also question marks over whether his elbow would survive the tournament, but Djokovic did what he does best as he came back from adversity to defeat Kevin Anderson in the final and lift his first Grand Slam title in more than two years.

2021 Australian Open

The 2021 Australian Open was another eventful one as the tournament was pushed back by a couple of weeks due to Covid-19, but Djokovic was once again the last man standing.

Djokovic was first troubled by an abdominal problem during his five-set win over Taylor Fritz in the third round and after his win over Milos Raonic in the fourth round he admitted he would have pulled out if it wasn’t a Grand Slam.

“There was a big cloud of doubt whether I’m going to play or not but it’s a Grand Slam and, for me, at this stage of my career, this means everything. If it was any other tournament, I probably wouldn’t be playing,” he said.

“I just want to try to feel better and better as this tournament progresses. Because I’m under painkillers, very strong ones, for 48 hours, I don’t know exactly the damage that has been done.”

There were once again suggestions that he was exaggerating his injury as he went on to defeat Daniil Medvedev in straight sets in the final.

“I wanted to keep things quiet and clear for me in terms of talking about the injury or any other stuff. Just keeping it to tennis,” he explained. “Once the tournament is done, I mean, (I can say) it’s a muscle tear. It was a muscle tear at that point.

“I don’t think I’ve experienced that kind of a snap that I have in the third round. I went to MRI. MRI has shown a tear.

“People questioned that.”

2023 Australian Open

After being forced to miss the 2022 Australian Open following his deportation, Djokovic returned to Melbourne Park with renewed vigour and was favourite for a 10th title Down Under.

But even before the tournament got underway, Djokovic revealed he was struggling with injury as he cancelled one practice session with his left leg heavily wrapped.

He allayed fears that it was serious and breezed through the opening matches before the injury flared up during his win over Enzo Couacaud.

“To be honest, it is not good at all. I will take it day to day,” he said and there were several reports that he could pull out of the tournament.

He reached the quarter-final, but there were suggestions that he faked it, but the tennis great hit back, saying: “Only my injuries are questioned. When some other players are injured, then they are the victims, but when it is me, I am faking it. It is very interesting.

“I don’t feel that I need to prove anything to anyone.”

He went on to reach the final and defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas in four sets to capture a 10th Australian Open title, but it later emerged that he played with a “three-centimetre tear in his hammy”.

Australian Open chief Craig Tiley said: “I don’t think anyone can question his athleticism. This guy I did see, he had a three-centimetre tear in his hammy. Absolutely (I saw the scans), the doctors are going to tell you the truth.”

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5 times Novak Djokovic was injured and won a Grand Slam: Featuring a 'three-centimetre tear in his hammy' (2024)
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