John McEnroe’s warning to Novak Djokovic ahead of Alex de Minaur clash at Australian Open

Novak Djokovic hits the deck Credit: Alamy
Novak Djokovic hits the deck Credit: Alamy

Alex de Minaur’s speed, grit and ability to make an opponent work could “hurt” Novak Djokovic if he is still nursing an injury during their Australian Open encounter, according to John McEnroe.

Nine-time Melbourne Park champion Djokovic first tweaked his hamstring en route to lifting the Adelaide International trophy in the first week of the new season.

Although he played down concerns over the extent of the injury, he has played with a heavily strapped leg in the first three matches and it has clearly bothered him at the hard-court Grand Slam while there are fears he could still pull out of the tournament.

Following his latest straight-sets victory over Grigor Dimitrov, McEnroe praised the 21-time Grand Slam winner’s ability to rise to the challenges thrown at him.

“It’s really difficult to say with Novak exactly what’s happening physically,” the seven-time major champion told Eurosport in an exclusive interview. “He’s getting the job done, he certainly doesn’t look like he’s [100] per cent.

“It’s a question of who’s going to take advantage of that when the going gets tough. It just seems like he’s able to rise to the occasion.

“But to me it’s going to catch up to him if he’s not right.”

Up next is the quick-footed Di Minaur in the fourth round and the Australian’s ability to chase a lot balls down could put Djokovic in a spot of bother is he is struggling, says McEnroe.

“This is either something that is going to be a non-issue in a match or two or else it’s going to cause an upset in my book,” the American told Eurosport.

“De Minaur, his next opponent, is someone that potentially [who could do that] because he relies on speed and grit and making an opponent work. The type of guy that could cause Novak problems if he’s not 100 per cent.”

Of course if his hamstring issue is a non-issue then De Minaur will need to produce “something incredible” to get the better of Djokovic.

McEnroe added: “If he is 100 percent or close to that, then De Minaur is the type of guy who maybe can’t hurt him a lot, so Novak is a heavy favourite. This is really difficult to say where he’s at right now.

“Hamstrings they are tough to diagnose, tough to rehabilitate. You really need to rest it.

“So if this is really an injury where the hamstring is affecting his movement, I’m impressed.

“He’s done this well so far, so hopefully it’s not too serious and he can go out and play the type of matches we’ve seen him play so often in Australia. Then someone has to play, do something incredible to beat him.”

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