So how can a hamstring injury improve when you are playing best-of-five-set tennis in a Grand Slam? It is a question only Novak Djokovic can answer.
When top athletes tweak their hamstring or pull it entirely, the only course of action is time away from sport to allow time for the body to heal.
Yet nine-time Australian Open champion Djokovic appears to have an alternative approach as his hamstring problem, as he has carried on playing and his “injury” to be improving every time he takes to the court.
After picking up the hamstring problem ahead of the tournament in Melbourne, Djokovic took to the court for his opening match with a heavily strapped left leg.
In his second round match against Frenchman Enzo Couacaud, the Serbian appeared to be seriously troubled by the injury and suggested after the match that he was “taking it day by day” in what appeared to be a hint that he was not sure whether he could finish the tournament.
Roll the clock forward a few days and Djokovic has played six more sets on Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, winning them in impressive fashion and playing at a level that seems inconceivable for a player with a hamstring problem.
“I feel great in terms of mobility and movement on my leg, which is great news,” declared Djokovic in his post match press conference after a sparkling 6-2 6-1 6-2 win over Alex de Minaur.
“We take it day by day. We do a lot of things. It’s been honestly exhausting to be involved in a lot of treatments and machines, but it is necessary in order to get myself in a condition to play. I’m really glad my body is responding.
“Tonight, I didn’t feel any pain. I moved as well as I have the whole tournament, so we are moving in the right direction.
“Some days I feel good, some not so good. As I said on the court, I don’t want to celebrate too early, but what I felt tonight is fantastic.
“A certain movement was affected, change of directions. Maybe people watching me play don’t get to see that, but as a player on the court I can feel that.
“You have to deal with a certain amount of pain, but the concern was the next quick change of direction of movements.”
Djokovic is famously cautious about the treatments he puts his body through, but it appears he has found a way to overcome an injury that most athletes would struggle to manage.
“There were situations where some days it responded great and others not so well,” he added. “I will keep doing what I have done so far to get into this position and hopefully it will keep improving.”
Sceptics will question Djokovic’s latest miraculous recovery from injury, after he famously won the 2021 Australian Open despite playing with a torn muscle in his stomach for most of the event.
Yet it is clear that he is now looking to the final few days of the Australian Open with his mind focus on tennis and not his hamstring problem.
“A week ago, I didn’t think about the title,” he added. “I just thought about being in a good enough condition to play the match.
“The way I played in this match makes me feel like I can go all the way. The way my leg is now, I feel positive about it.
“Anything is possible. I have been in this situation so many time and this helps me to have a clear approach to the remaining days of the tournament and what I need to do.
“Looking at the performance (against Alex de Minaur), this is what happens when I have a clear mind.”
However he has done it, Djokovic appears to have shaken off a hamstring injury while continuing to play his sport at the highest level.
Given his latest comments, it appears this year’s Australian Open title is his to lose.
The article Is Novak Djokovic still carrying a hamstring injury? Here is his response appeared first on Tennis365.com.