Djokovic says injury doubters give him extra motivation

Australian Open
Tennis - Australian Open - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia - January 23, 2023 Serbia's Novak Djokovic in action during his fourth round match against Australia's Alex De Minaur REUTERS/Hannah Mckay

MELBOURNE, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Novak Djokovic said any questions over whether he has genuinely been struggling with a hamstring injury at the Australian Open only give him extra strength and motivation.

The Serbian remained on track for a 10th Melbourne Park title on Monday with a fourth-round thrashing of Alex de Minaur despite the injury that he had previously said called into question whether he could continue in the tournament.

In his English post-match press conference, the 35-year-old said he felt as good as he had since he sustained the injury in an Adelaide warm-up tournament, but in later comments to Serbian media he rounded on the doubters.

"I leave the doubting to those people; let them doubt," he said, according to the Tennis Majors website.

"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."

Djokovic, who missed last year's tournament after being kicked out of Australia because of his stance on COVID-19 vaccinations, battled an abdominal problem throughout his run to his ninth title in 2021.

"I have got the MRI, ultrasound and everything else, both from two years ago and now," he added.

"Whether I will publish that in my documentary or on the social media depends on how I feel. Maybe I will do I it, maybe I won't."

Djokovic could match Rafa Nadal's record by winning a 22nd Grand Slam title on Sunday but has often complained that he is not held in the same regard as the injury-prone Spaniard and Roger Federer.

"I am not really interested at this point what people are thinking and saying," he said.

"It is fun, it is interesting to see how the narrative surrounding me continues, narrative that is different compared to other players that have been going through a similar situation.

"But I am used to it, and it just gives me extra strength and motivation. So I thank them for that."

Djokovic will play Russian Andrey Rublev in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.

Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney; Editing by Bradley Perrett

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