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Djokovic says ‘rollercoaster’ Australian Open one of toughest tournaments

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Serbia’s Novak Djokovic poses with the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup trophy during a photo shoot at the Brighton Beach in Melbourne on February 22, 2021. AFP

Melbourne, Australia (AFP) – Novak Djokovic said his ninth Australian Open title came after one of the toughest tournaments of his career, with a muscle-tear injury that is still “not healed” and attacks from the media and public.

Despite the challenges, the world number one snuffed out the threat from in-form Russian Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 to reinforce his status as the king of Melbourne Park and collect his 18th Grand Slam crown.

But there were numerous hurdles to jump, not least having to quarantine for 14 days and the negative reaction to a letter he wrote to Tennis Australia pre-tournament which was interpreted as a “petulant and selfish” list of demands.

“I think emotionally it was one of the hardest tournaments that I’ve ever had, to be honest,” the Serbian top seed told Australia’s Channel Nine on Sunday.

“We had quarantine and a lot of things happening in the media, then the letter that I wrote as ideas and recommendations that I got for players was misinterpreted as a list of demands. Then the next thing I was persona non grata here in this country.

“So it was tough dealing with all of this and then getting injured in the third round,” he added of the abdominal tear that almost forced him to pull out.

“It was a rollercoaster ride… I think it makes it even sweeter for me and a lot of positives from this tournament without a doubt.”

His coach Goran Ivanisevic said the criticisms Djokovic had to deal were unfair.

“Actually he needed this victory so badly. There is somebody upstairs who see all this unfairness with a lot of media and people they doing to him,” he said.

“He tried to help the players,” he added of the contentious letter. “Again, it’s only him. It’s his fault, like everybody else attacking him. Nobody else to attack, so let’s attack Novak.”

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