Novak Djokovic is worried about getting hurt at the Australian Open, and changes in the balls may be to blame.
Novak Djokovic is worried about getting hurt at the Australian Open, and changes in the balls may be to blame.

Novak Djokovic, the number one player in the world, has hit a snag on his way to the Australian Open. He lost a match and was limited by a sore wrist.

It has been a sure thing that Djokovic will win Down Under for a long time. It’s kind of like how Rafael Nadal used to always win the European clay-court swing.

But Djokovic lost on Wednesday to Alex de Minaur, the best player from Australia and ranked 12th in the world. This ended a six-year streak in which he won all 43 matches he played there.

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Serbia lost to Djokovic 6-4, 6-4, and was eliminated from the United Cup in the quarterfinals. However, that probably doesn’t bother him as much as the pain in his wrist that he had to treat during his previous match against Jiri Lehecka.

He was heard telling the trainer, “It got better before the game, but it got worse when I started playing, and it’s getting worse the more I play.”

Nick Kyrgios wrote on X that the last person to beat Djokovic in Australia was Hyeon Chung, a South Korean who shocked everyone in the fourth round of the 2018 Australian Open. However, Chung hasn’t played much since then because of ongoing back pain.

Also, Djokovic wasn’t fully fit when he lost to Chung. This became clear when he had surgery on his arm the next month, which was the only surgery of his career. He is almost impossible to beat on hard courts or grass when he is fully fit.

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It looks like Djokovic was hurt at both the 2021 and 2023 Australian Opens, but he generally stays ahead of the other players. He was very detailed when he said that he had a 25mm oblique tear after the event in 2021 and a 3cm hamstring tear at the end of 2023. Some opponents were still skeptical, and they said behind closed doors that he couldn’t have been performing at that level with those kinds of serious injuries.

It was reported that Djokovic’s sore wrist “did have quite an impact” after Wednesday’s loss, but he played down any worries. “I mean, the last two times I was hurt right before the Australian Open, I still won both times…” With any luck, I won’t get hurt this time.

At the time of writing, Djokovic was still the overwhelming favorite to win an amazing 11th title in Melbourne at the end of the month. The Australian Open begins on January 14.

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