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‘Outplayed and outclassed’: De Minaur hits out in row over Djokovic loss

'Because I wanted to': Djokovic's cheeky response after de Minaur demolition

Source: Nine Network

Aussie tennis star Alex de Minaur has spoken out following his heartbreaking fourth-round loss to Novak Djokovic on Monday night.

Djokovic, who breezed past de Minaur in straight sets, has been in the headlines over speculation that he had been faking – or exaggerating – his hamstring injury.

In his initial post-match press conference, de Minaur seemed to hint that he thought the Serb was playing up his injury.

“I don’t know. You tell me how you thought he looked out there,” he said late on Monday.

“Playing him, I thought he was moving pretty well, so… I don’t know.”

But on Tuesday, de Minaur has walked back his statement, saying his words were taken “out of context”.

“I hate how media will always create controversy and takes things out of context to make a headline,” he said.

“[I] got outplayed and outclassed yesterday. How about we focus on the tennis for once.

“I will get back to work and improve you can count on that. Thank you Australia,” he said, along with a heart emoji.

 

Speculation has grown about the severity of Djokovic’s hamstring injury, sustained at the Adelaide International earlier in January.

Initially, there were fears it would affect the Serb’s chances at Melbourne Park. But now he’s through to the quarter-finals, tennis experts have speculated that perhaps the injury was not as severe as Djokovic’s heavy strapping had suggested.

Speaking on Nine’s morning Australian Open coverage, Aussie tennis legend Todd Woodbridge said it wouldn’t be out of the question, given Djokovic had a reputation for “playing up” injuries.

“I’m not saying it’s gamesmanship, it’s pretty obvious he has a bit of a niggle. But at times it looks like it’s about to snap off, so he’s playing it up nicely here and there – but you know, that’s Novak,” Woodbridge said.

The Serbian star took aim at those suggestions in his post-match press conference.

“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,” he said.

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

“I am not really interested at this point what people are thinking and saying.

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

Djokovic

Djokovic’s thigh has been strapped up throughout play in Melbourne. Photo: Getty

Players chime in

Other tennis figures have chimed in amid the controversy, among them Djokovic’s former coach and German tennis legend Boris Becker.

Becker spoke to Eurosport, saying Djokovic was no faker.

“I’ve known him for a long time and I know that he has problems with his thigh,” he said.

“Sometimes you think he’s bluffing or can’t finish the game. It’s a bit of heaven and hell. That also makes it difficult for the opponent. But Novak wouldn’t behave like that if he had nothing.”

American star Taylor Fritz, who lost in the second round of the Australian Open to home-grown player Alexei Popyrin, joined the discussion online.

“Everyone is honestly always a little banged up … the media is only ever focusing on the top guys so there [sic] issues get more attention,” he tweeted on Tuesday morning.

Fritz said while he didn’t believe players faked injuries, he did think severity was sometimes overstated.

“I do think sometimes players stretch the severity of the injury because it depressurises them and helps them play better (which honestly is fine, do whatever works).”

Kyrgios’ confidence boost

While Nick Kyrgios is recovering from his arthroscopic knee surgery, he’s still focused on the tennis.

And even though he faces weeks of recovery, his spirits appear high.

Kyrgios tweeted on Monday night that Djokovic’s stellar performance gave him a confidence boost.

“Watching Novak tonight makes me feel good about my tennis in general,” he said.

“How have I beaten this guy?”

Kyrgios has won two of his three matches against the Serb – he’s one of the few players on tour with a winning record against the superstar.

Kyrgios beat Djokovic twice in 2017 – first in Acapulco, then at Indian Wells.

However, Kyrgios lost out on a grand slam title to Djokovic in 2022, losing to him in the Wimbledon final.

Stosur sticking around

Sam Stosur has officially entered retirement following her mixed doubles defeat on Saturday.

But the Aussie tennis star says she’s not hanging up her racket just yet.

Stosur revealed on Tuesday she still had tennis ambitions. But these days it’s behind the scenes.

“I’d love to stay in the sport. It’s been my whole life,” she told Today show hosts Karl Stefanovic and Sarah Abo.

“I’d love to stay involved and pass on some of that experience to my friends who I’ve been competing with all these years, and also some of the younger players.

“[I’d] love to get into some coaching and mentoring. Yeah, I won’t be playing at the Aussie Open again, but I’d like to think I’ll still be back next year in a different capacity.”

Stosur said the reality of her playing career being over hasn’t quite sunk in yet.

“It feels a little strange, but I think it’s really going to hit home when the Aussie Open’s finished at the weekend and I wake up Monday morning and there’s no more tennis to watch.”

All Abilities Day

The men’s and women’s singles competitions may be slimming down, but other tennis draws are only just getting started.

Among them are the wheelchair divisions – of which there are six – and exhibition matches for blind and low vision players.

In celebration of these matches and the diverse tennis community, the Australian Open has launched its inaugural All Abilities Day.

In an effort to make the tournament accessible and enjoyable for all, Tennis Australia has integrated digital platform BindiMaps, which allows people with varying impairments to see the best way to travel around the tournament.

This year’s tournament also has access to Action Audio – which gives visually impaired people the ability to experience games in real time.

There are also sensory and calm areas scattered around the precinct, as are guide dog relief areas and travelling aids.

There are also on-court opportunities for kids and adults from Tennis Australia’s disabilities pathways, including intellectual disability, down syndrome, neurodiverse, deaf or hard of hearing, blind or low vision, and physical disability.

23-time grand slam champion and Australian of the Year Dylan Alcott said Tennis Australia was “leading the way” ahead of the other grand slams.

“All the work that has been done… I know my consultancy firm Get Skilled Access has been involved around things like seating, ticketing, social media… that’s pretty cool and leading the way for other sports and major events to hopefully follow,” he said in a statement.

“Everybody deserves the right to pick and choose what they do in their lives, and I hope lots of people with disabilities come and enjoy the AO.”

Dylan Alcott says the Australian Open is “leading the way” for accessibility at grand slams. Photo: Supplied

Up tonight

While there aren’t any Aussies left in the men’s or women’s singles draws, there is one honourary Aussie left in the mix.

Of course, we’re referring to Greek player Stefanos Tsitsipas, who has hordes of fans following his every move at Melbourne Park.

Last week, the third seed even tried out a bit of Aussie slang in a bid to impress the crowd.

He described his first round match against Frenchman Quentyn Halys as a “ripsnorter”.

“I’m really glad to be playing flat out, like a lizard in the water,” said Tsitsipas.

He continued that he was going “full in” on the Aussie slang.

“I’m committing… I’m happy I got the biscuit in the end, so it was great.”

Now in the fourth round, Tsitsipas will be hoping to get the chocolates, as they say, over Czech opponent Jiri Lehecka.

They’ll follow American Jessica Pegula and two-time champion Victoria Azarenka at Rod Laver Arena.

While Pegula and Azarenka will be enemies on court, the pair have nothing but love for each other off-court.

In one of her post-match press conferences, Azarenka had high praise for the American.

“She’s a great friend of mine. I absolutely adore her and we have really tough battles every single time. We practice with each other, so there’s gonna be no surprises, absolutely, but … it’s going to be tough,” she told reporters.

Pegula retweeted a clip of Azarenka’s interview, along with a cry-face emoji.

“Can’t wait to battle tomorrow night,” Pegula wrote.

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